Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

It’s been quite the week around here. I started off by having marathon baking/gift wrapping sessions on both Sunday and Monday. All of my cookies are made, but I decided last minute (aka 11:30pm the night before we leave for Vulcan) to make some more goodies. I worked four days this week, which would make that the first time in years that I’ve worked the whole week leading up to Christmas. It was rough, but I survived. On Wednesday, my MomBoss took me out for lunch. I got lovely gifts from both of my nanny families, and I cannot wait to put the gift cards to good use.

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On Wednesday night, my sister Tracy got engaged. (That would be the Vulcan sister) Her and Kent were ice skating when he proposed. I haven’t seen her yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing the ring and hearing all about it. I’m excited for her, but I just feel like she’s so young! Then again, when my Mom was 20, she had two kids, with a third not far off in the distance. Her and my Dad got married that year as well. Guess it’s just the overprotective big sister in me coming out.

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{My Aunt painted this when I was kid.}

The family and I are off to Vulcan today. We’ll be coming back to Calgary on Boxing Day, but then heading out the next day to Edmonton to spend time with Stephen’s family. We’ve never needed this time off more, and I’ve already been warned that I shouldn’t be spending our holidays attached to my computer. I had already made the decision when Stephen mentioned it to me… I’ll be taking next week off from blogging. I’ll be returning in January with stories and pictures of my time away though!

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{Our tree this year}

Merry Christmas! Enjoy whatever holidays you may get, and hug your family and loved ones extra tight this year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chewy Skor Toffee Bits Cookies

While grocery shopping a month or so ago, I was stocking up on the necessary baking related items when I noticed something new by the chocolate chips: toffee bits! I immediately picked them up and stuck them in the cart, but Stephen gave me a look. I have a habit of grabbing ingredients with the intention of using them, but waiting ages to actually getting around to it. I told him that I had a recipe for some cookies in mind, despite the fact that I actually didn’t. I just wanted them that badly. I went home, Googled a recipe and made the first one that popped up. Not really knowing what to expect, I was surprised by just how good these were. They’re addictive, as my friend George can vouch. Twice now, I’ve put out a plate of them and both her and I found ourselves eating a few too many. I dare you to stop at just one.

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I’m still getting used to the natural light in our house. The apartment had full on direct sun coming in during the day, making my kitchen counter a great place to take pictures. This house doesn’t have that, and with it being winter, my window of time for getting some natural light is very, very small. You’ll see that reflected in these pictures, so I’m sorry for that. I’m contemplating making a light box just to use for taking pictures of my baked goods. That’s how desperate I am for light! My point and shoot camera doesn’t do so well in low light situations.

Chewy Skor Toffee Bits Cookies

(Printable Recipe)

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Eggs
1 1/3 cups Skor toffee bits

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
3. In large mixer bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until well blended.
Add eggs; blend thoroughly.
4. Gradually fold in flour mixture. Stir in toffee bits.
5. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until lightly browned.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reverb 10

To find out more about how to reflect on this year and manifest what’s next, please check out the Reverb 10 website!

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

I’m going to skip over this question because I feel like I just keep writing up different versions of the same answer.

December 21 – Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

Dear Angela,

This is you, five years from now. I can see you struggling with fitting all of the pieces of your life together, and I just wanted to tell you that it all works out in the end, it always does. Remember how Stephen and you were scraping by, living pay check to pay check? Then things got better and you guys were actually starting to save up quite a bit of money? Things keep progressing along those lines. Both of you have gotten better at saving and making smarter purchases. The home you’re living in now? You do finally get it unpacked. You’ll get all of the furniture and art work that you want, and you’ll turn it into the home you’ve always dreamed of. It’s going to take some work, and you’ll have to do more painting, but these little projects will bring you and Stephen closer together. 2011 will be the year that you finally decide to take charge of your life. You’ll be more conscientious of your thoughts, feelings and actions towards others. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. You’ll strengthen your friendships with others. The past few years have been tough, but they’ve moulded you into the person that you are now. You’re growing and learning every day, just like everyone else. Oh, and you know how you’re super emotional? That still hasn’t changed. You still tear up at silly things, like writing this letter. Keep your chin up, and always remember to smile.

Future Angela

December 22 – Travel How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

I didn’t do much travelling in 2010. Unless you count road trips to Edmonton and Vulcan, I haven’t gone anywhere. Those short trips sprinkled throughout the year were still amazing, regardless of where they were, because I spent them with family. In 2011, Stephen and I plan to take a short summer vacation to Victoria, BC. His brother lives out there, and our nephew will be turning one, so we want to be there for his first birthday party. I’m hoping that we’ll start saving more so that we can take more trips throughout the year! What are your travel plans for 2011?

Monday, December 20, 2010

20SB Blog Swap

After having my blog swap partner bail on me last minute, I complained on Twitter. Krista (who I’ve known since high school) saw my Tweet and offered to exchange posts with me. Thanks so much Krista! You can read my post here.

I decided to try out this Blog Swap thing hosted by 20sb, however, when it came time to partner up, my partner never replied to my e-mail. But... things work out for the best sometimes! My friend, Angela (who I mentioned in my earlier post) had a similar predicament where her partner bailed on her. So... in the spirit of blog swapping, we swapped each others' blog posts! And mine goes a little something like this...

Topic: “Action. What will you do next year that you've been putting off for too long?"

It seems that setting things aside to do another day happens all too often for me. Certain activities will pique my interest, and I’ll make a promise to myself that I’ll do it when I’m a little less busy… when I have more time. The truth is that I never really have more time. If someone—anyone—“doesn’t have time to do something,” it means they won’t have the time to do it. What this entry is about is doing what you want to and finding ways to achieve a sometimes very ambitious goal.

Something I’ve wanted to do for years was to travel again. When I was younger, I travelled a lot on my own to visit someone I was dating in Florida. I started travelling across the border-- flying on airplanes-- on my own at 15 years old. Back then, I would work and save money to travel to visit my boyfriend. I can still recall how to get around the Houston, Denver, and Orlando airports with relative ease, despite me not visiting Florida for 3 years at least. That’s how much I travelled (and oh, how simple life was back then).

I stopped travelling when I started to attend University. I believed that, because of school, I wouldn’t have the time, money, or resources to travel until after I finished. I also had other commitments. I had to work when I wasn’t going to school (and even during) to pay for living expenses, tuition, and textbooks. I have a condo that I help pay for with my current boyfriend. I have a lot of other duties that I need to attend to. I was in a routine and quite comfortable, as oft routines go. I believed that if I left on a trip, everything would change in my daily routine and that I would get uncomfortable.

The trick of it is to change your mindset, which is something I ultimately did. I was craving doing something amazing with my life. Life is short, afterall. So in November, I took the plunge and decided to go on a field study to Ghana, Africa. The brochure described the opportunity as “An experience of a lifetime,” which was later echoed by one of the professors heading the expedition in an information session I had gone to. The kicker was that this trip would cost somewhere in the jurisdiction of $8000. Despite working so much, it seems my wages only go towards living expenses and helping to pay for the condo. The truth is that I don’t make enough money to pay for all of the expenses above, and I need to take out student loans to pay for my schooling. Where would I get the money to pay for this trip?

I got sad thinking about it at first because as things went right then and there, I wouldn’t be able to go. Again: changing your mindset helps. I asked myself some critical questions: do I really want to do this? Well… yes, of course. I then asked myself, how can I achieve my goal?’ My mind reeled with ideas of fundraising, working hard, accepting donations, and spreading the word about my plan.

Currently, I’m doing all of those things. I’m exhausted, but I don’t care because I know that in the end, all of my hard work will be worth it. I motivate myself every day. I try to think positively about things because it helps to smooth over any bumps that pop up in my mission. I leave in May, so I have a ton of time to earn the money necessary to go on this trip. So far, things are looking good!

I plan on documenting the entire 40 days I’ll be spending in Ghana via my blog and videos. Although my goal is to get to Ghana, my primary mission is to encourage people to get what they want in life. I’m not a person who has things handed to me on a silver platter--quite the contrary. I was raised in a way where my mum taught me if I wanted something that I needed to get my hands dirty a bit (or a lot) and really strive to obtain it.

It’s not often opportunities fall on people’s lap. That’s simply not how life works for the common person. If you want something badly enough, sometimes you need to make the time. Positive thinking helps a lot, too. Give it a try!

Is there something you’ve been meaning to do forever that you may try to do now?

Ten on Tuesday

1. Do you do any volunteer work?
As of right now, no. I'm thinking of getting back into volunteering again though, so I'm looking for the best fit for me.

2. Do you have night and/or morning ritual?
I don't have a night ritual. My morning ritual consists of drinking coffee and reading blogs in my pajamas. Once I'm done that, I get ready for the day.

3. Would you rather exercise or diet? Why?
I'd really rather not do either exclusively, so I'll say a combination of both. I'd much rather just eat healthier and get some exercise than go to extremes with either one.

4. If you would rather exercise, do you prefer going to a gym or working out at home?
I'd prefer working out at home. I get embarrassed much too easily.

5. What do you think is a huge waste of time?

Waiting for transit. It's never on time.

6. What is one way you save time?
I can't think of an answer for this question other than plain old multitasking.

7. What is your current obsession?
My iPhone. I'm not much of a game person, but I'm addicted to the games on it.

8. What is a current obsession you can’t wait to pass?
Twilight and everything related to that.

9. Are you currently reading a book? If so, what book? Would you recommend it?

Sort of. I took a book out of the library called "Let Me Eat Cake", but I haven't felt much like reading it. I need to find a more interesting book.

10. Since we had the 90s question last week, what’s your favorite songs from 00′s?
All of my favorite songs aren't from my favorite genre of music, and most of them aren't even from the 00's. Despite that random fact, the only one that pops into my head at the moment is Firecracker by Josh Turner.

Reverb 10

To find out how you can reflect on this year and manifest what’s next, visit the Reverb 10 website.

December 16 – Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

I made a new friend this year, who I like to refer to as my nanny friend. We met at the park while we were both working and she struck up a conversation with me. Little did I know, our friendship would blossom into a lot more than just work acquaintances. Our kids are around the same ages, so we always plan play dates, but we also see each other outside of work. Stephen and I even invited her and her husband over for a game night. It’s been so great having another nanny around. The entire time that I’ve been a nanny, I haven’t known another one. I love being able to talk about our jobs with each other, and I like the fact that she’s ready to hand out advice when I need it most. George doesn’t realize this, but she’s help me to become a better nanny. Thanks, George!

December 17 – Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

The best thing that I’ve learned is that I’m not as painfully shy as I thought I was. I’ve met three different blog friends this year, and I still can’t believe that I just went ahead and decided to meet complete strangers off of the internet. (Best decision ever, these ladies are all awesome!)

December 18 – Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?

Throughout the year, I had been seeing things on Twitter and around the blogosphere about something called stratejoy. I’ve looked into the website a bit and came across The Joy Equation and was instantly intrigued. I’ve put it off mainly because of the price, but lately, I’ve been feeling drawn back to the website. I just feel like that at this point in my life, I could use some reflection and inspiration. (Who couldn’t?) I’m going to make it my goal to do The Joy Equation in 2011. What have I got to lose?

December 19 – Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

Acceptance and letting things go. These are two things that I struggle with, and always will struggle with, but this year, I’ve been doing a lot better with both of them. It helps that I have my own personal cheerleader, but when I actually started taking his advice to heart, I realized just how much better my life was. And you know what? It actually is healing for me. Not to have the worries and stress of certain toxic friendships weighing me down has really helped me to move on.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Women of Wonder: Mission #7


Rediscover Yourself: Reflect on the experiences that you’ve had over the last couple of weeks. What is it that makes you shine?

It’s hard to believe that after a crazy three month journey, this is my last mission. WonderBra first contacted me several months ago asking if I’d be willing to participate, and I very nearly deleted that email, thinking that it was just spam. I’m so glad that I didn’t, because this journey that I’ve been on was a great one. You can read more about my first six missions by clicking on the links below:
Mission #1: Rediscover Your World. (Due to some scheduling difficulties, this is the only mission that has yet to happen. Look for it in the new year!
Mission #2: Rediscover Your Beauty.
Mission #3: Rediscover Your Dreams.
Mission #4: Rediscover Your Happiness.
Mission #5: Rediscover Your Community.
Mission #6: Rediscover Your Balance.
Mission #7: Rediscover Yourself.

It was suggested that I create a signature recipe for this mission. I loved the idea, but I’m still not quite comfortable with creating my own recipes and posting them. I’m slowly working my way toward that. Instead, while contemplating what I would like to bake, I started thinking about with who, and where I’d like to be eating my baked goods. My favorite way to catch up with friends is on a coffee date, and I figure that’s just what we’re doing right now. We’re two friends, catching up on the past three months. What goes better with a cup of coffee than some biscotti? I discovered this recipe on Joy the Baker’s blog, and knew that it would be perfect. There is no better smell than cinnamon sugar biscotti baking in your oven. I had to restrain myself from eating the biscotti straight from the oven.

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Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti
Source: Joy the Baker

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
6 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 beaten egg

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the topping.
3. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in the egg, and then the egg yolk. Mix in vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients.
4. Divide dough into two pieces. Shape each half onto the baking sheet into a 9 inch long by 1 1/2 inch wide log. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar.
5. Bake for 20 minutes. Rotate baking sheets and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until golden.
6. Remove from oven (keep oven on!) and once the cookies are cool enough to handle, slice into half inch wide slices. Place biscotti cut side down on baking sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 10-15 minutes more, or until golden.
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Now that we’ve got our snack, let’s talk more about the Women of Wonder Project. I’ve learned so much about myself over the past three months. I’ve had to step outside of my comfort zone (hello, ballet class!) and try new things. The best part? I gained enough confidence to realize that I can do these things. I also learned a lot about my family and close friends. When I call them up last minute and pitch crazy ideas to them (ballet class and bake sale), they’re all onboard, without any hesitation. My passion for giving and helping others has also been reawakened with the Mustard Seed and bake sale missions. I’m starting to think about these things in my every day life… I’ve even started asking Stephen if we could sponsor a child, or find other ways to give back. We’ve been blessed (especially lately), so it’s only right that we share our blessings with others.

So, it all boils down to what I think it is that makes me shine: My willingness to give. You know that biscotti that I baked? I’m not keeping it for myself. I did what I do best, I packaged it up in a Christmas tin, and I’m going to give it away to someone I love. After all, what’s the point in keeping everything to myself? I enjoy life so much more when I share it with others. (Same goes for biscotti!)
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I have to say thank you to WonderBra Canada for choosing me to participate in this project. I’ve received many wonderful gifts (I’m set on bras and underwear for a while), and the experiences that I’ve gained while completing my missions are priceless. I hope that if there’s one thing that you can take away from this campaign, it’s that we’re all talented and beautiful in our own ways. I couldn’t have learned that lesson enough from my friends and family while working on this.

To check out what the other four ladies did on their missions, check out the WonderBra Facebook page. They all participated in some amazing missions!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Women of Wonder: Mission #6


I know I’m behind on posting this mission. To be honest, this mission couldn’t come at a better (or worse?) time in my life.
Rediscover Your Balance: Take a picture of the 5 things that help you keep balance in your life and explain why.

When I got this mission, I was stumped. I thought about it for a day or two, and still couldn’t come up with anything, so I sought help. I asked friends on Facebook and Twitter how they find balance in their lives. I got a few responses:

@kimwithak: “…I try not to open my laptop on Saturdays as much as possible. Just one day off helps balance.
@MprfectltyCandid: “…friends and family…”
Dawn: “Music, meditation, and water. And if I can "meditate" while listening to some soft music in the background while sitting at the ocean or the river? That'd be perfect.”
Krista: “For me... my life is always so busy. I have to force myself to sit down and just take a time out, which is my balance. My "time outs" are usually... breaks from studying, taking a nap, allowing myself some time to talk to a friend in the hallways... etc.”
Izel: “…I think doing what you love or makes you happy.”
Sal: “Doing what I believe in, always with honor and respect is not only what gives me balance, but what provides me with a reason to keep on living.”
Caroline: “Yoga!”

Now that I had a fresh perspective on this mission, the things that help me find my balance just started jumping out at me! I feel like the way I live my life can be compared to walking a straight path. I get up, I go to work. I come home. I eat. I spend time with friends. I sleep. I have a routine and schedule that I’ve grown accustomed to. Once I start becoming stressed and frazzled, I feel like not only am I stumbling off that path, I’m careening out of control. The following things and people are what help me regain my sanity and help me to balance my life back out again.

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Stephen. He’s a given, right? He puts up with my crazy antics. He knows me inside and out, so he knows when I’m stumbling off my path. He’s the one who keeps me sane, and to prevent me from having a full on meltdown, he’ll help me to take a step back from whatever situation it is that I’m in, and to look at it with a new perspective. Case in point: Last Saturday, I hosted a housewarming party. We were seriously behind due to painting, so the day of the party, I had a lot of cleaning and cooking to do. I started getting stressed and Stephen could see me starting to slowly lose control. I slipped on the stairs at one point and broke down into tears. Knowing that I just needed to get out of there, Stephen sent me to take a shower and get ready for the party, despite the fact that we were nowhere near done getting ready for the party. All I needed was a nice warm shower to help me feel better and I was back to being my normal self.


My Family. They’ve been around since day one. Next to Stephen, they’re the ones that know the most about me. They’ve seen me at my best and at my worst. They know how sensitive I am. They’ve seen me lose friends and gain new relationships. They’re always around to help me out when I need it the most. I’m so grateful for them.

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My Friends. They put up with all of my antics and grand schemes. They come to every little party that I decide to throw. Even when I’m having a meltdown over the fact that the party didn’t turn out the way I wanted, they’re still there to comfort me. (Yes, I consider my sisters my friends.)

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My Morning Routine. I used to be a nanny for 4 kids. Needless to say, the days could get a little rowdy. I discovered early on in life that I’m not a morning person, and waking up, getting ready and leaving for work left me frazzled on certain days. One day, I discovered that if I started out the morning by enjoying a cup of coffee and reading some blogs for 45 minutes or so, I was able to get a more calm start to my day. On days that I don’t get to partake in this little ritual, I can actually feel myself starting off my day unbalanced. It’s funny how little things like that can make such a big difference.

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Baking. There’s no better way to balance out my life than to get lost in a baking project. Sure, I have times when I get in over my head and probably have a meltdown or two, but there’s nothing better than coming home after a hard day and whipping up a batch of cookies. Cookies fresh out of the oven will cure anything.

To find out more about the Women of Wonder project, check out the WonderBra Facebook page.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reverb 10

To find out more about Reverb 10, and how to reflect on this year and manifest what’s next, please check out the Reverb 10 website.

December 13 – Action When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

For my third Women of Wonder Mission, I went and helped out in a bakery for a few hours. Being there really helped me realize just how much I love baking and being surrounded by people who feel the same way. It’s made me realize that I need to take the next step and further my dreams. Only problem is, I still haven’t done that. The next step right now is to gather up a game plan for 2011, and figure out just how I’m going to make my dreams a reality.

December 14 – Appreciate What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

In the past year, I’ve really come to appreciate space. It sounds trite, but when you’re living in a small apartment with your boyfriend, you can get on each other’s nerves pretty quick. We somehow still managed to come out of it loving each other more than ever, and I think that says a lot about us and our relationship. We never let our annoyances escalate into anything bigger. I’m expressing gratitude about it right now, through writing. It’s not like you can go say thank you to an apartment!

December 15 – 5 Minutes Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

-Moving from the apartment to the new house.
-The Mexican Fiesta Party we had.
-My friends and family coming together to help me whenever I needed it.
-The Women of Wonder projects.
-My old job.
-My new jobs.
-The families that I’ve worked for over the past year.

While this list may not seem like a lot, all of these things were big events/occurrences throughout the past year for me. I’m excited to see what memories 2011 brings for me.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Ten on Tuesday


1. What is your favorite kind of cheese?
I’m a sucker for Brie.

2. Do you prefer fudge with or without nuts?
Without nuts. Smooth and creamy is the way to go.

3. How do you feel about cats?
I’m not really a fan of cats. I don’t mind them when they’re at other people’s houses though.

4. Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts?
Meg Ryan, back in the You’ve Got Mail days.

5. Do you wear a watch?
No. I use my cell phone to tell the time.

6. What are a few of your favorite songs from the 90′s?
I had a thing for boy bands, especially The Backstreet Boys, so pretty much any song by them. I don’t care how uncool that makes me.

7. Do you like scented candles?
Love them!

8. What do you like on your hamburger?
Ketchup, relish, lettuce, tomato and cheese.

9. How often do you cut your fingernails?
I have a really bad habit of biting my nails, so I really don’t cut them all that often.

10. Do you sleep in socks?
I only wear socks if I have to, so no.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Reverb 10

Playing catch up on days 9-12. To find out more about how to reflect on this year & manifest what’s next, check out the Reverb 10 website.

December 9 – Party Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

In February, Stephen and I decided to combine our birthdays celebrations (his is January 8th and mine is February 5th). After toying with a few theme ideas, we settled on a Mexican Fiesta theme. The star of our party was the Taco Bar that we had set up on our kitchen island. We set out massive amounts of everything needed to construct the perfect taco. There were margaritas and even a cappuccino fudge cheesecake that my sister baked for me. Someone brought stick on moustaches, a sombrero and some maracas. We all took turns taking pictures with them. We even had a piñata that Stephen broke with one big whack that caused me to scream. I love the feeling of being surrounded by all of the people that I love!

December 10 – Wisdom Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

My wisest decision that I made was accepting the two jobs that I did. The whole job hunting process for me was a whirlwind. I was in a cloud of doubt and worry, but when these job opportunities presented themselves, I knew accepting them would be the best decision for not only myself, but for Stephen as well. I’m treated fantastically at work, and I never realized just how much of a difference that can make! (I was treated well at my last job as well, so don’t take that the wrong way!)

December 11 – 11 Things What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

1. Negativity.
2. Self-doubt.
3. Clutter.
4. Worry.
5. Stress.
6. Attempting to be perfect.
7. Eating out more often than I should.
8. Procrastination.
9. Guilt.
10. Envy.
11. Distractions.

Eliminating these things won’t be an easy process, and I don’t expect to be able to do it all in 2011. It’ll be an ongoing battle to work on these things, but they’ll help me to become a better person.

December 12 – Body Integration This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

I’ve thought about this one for most of the day yesterday, but I couldn’t come up with anything. I’ll have to take a pass on this prompt.

Friday, December 10, 2010

7 Quick Takes (Vol 23)

1. Before we moved, we decided that we would have a party on December 11th. It’s my Mom’s birthday, so we figured that we would combine the celebration with a housewarming and Christmas party. At the time, it sounded like a good idea because we figured it would keep us motivated to get unpacked as quick as possible. Boy, were we wrong.

2. Like I had mentioned earlier in the week, we need to repaint because the previous tenants had tried to repaint over the holes in the walls with the wrong color. It looked awful, and we knew that we just had to get it done this week. Stephen and I are still working opposite schedules, so this week has been rough. It would have gone a lot smoother if we had the week off, or even if we just worked the same schedules and could work on getting the house ready together.

3. Since I’m exhausted by the time I get home from work, I haven’t been getting as much done as I would have hoped. Last night, I started piling boxes into every closet possible. Hopefully none of the guests decide that they need to look inside our closets…

4. Despite the fact that we’re not unpacked, we do have our Christmas tree up. We’ve got our priorities straight.

5. Having PVR is pretty much the best thing ever. I recorded a Keeping Up With the Kardashians marathon, and now I’m hooked.

6. Have I mentioned how much I love my job? On Tuesday, I decided last minute to get T out of the house, so we went to Chapter’s to play with the train sets. He asked me to invite my nanny friend and her boys, so I texted her as we were leaving and she met us there. We grabbed some Starbucks and had a nice chat while the boys played. I love moments like that!

7. Only 15 days until I go on a mini-vacation for a week. I need this now more than ever!

Happy weekend friends!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a sucker for chocolate and peanut butter. I mean really, could there be any better combination than that? Ok, maybe peanut butter cookies with a nice cold glass of milk. When making my way through my Google Reader one night, I came across a recipe for Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies by Brown Eyed Baker. They looked so perfect that I got up right then and there and baked them… at 11pm. Trust me, they’re worth it. I even sent the link to Andi, and she’s made them a few times and loves them as well! A great way to take these cookies over the top is to substitute the sugar with vanilla sugar. YUM!

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Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

(Printable Recipe)

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup room temperature unsalted butter
1/2 peanut butter
1/2 cup vanilla sugar (plain white sugar is used in the original recipe)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips
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1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, cream together butter, peanut butter, vanilla sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Add the egg and beat well.
4. Fold in flour, oats and chocolate chips.
5. Shape into tbsp sized balls and place on cookie sheets. Bake 10 minutes.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Reverb 10

When it gets to be close to the end of the year, I love reflecting upon the previous year so that I can see where I've been and what I've done. When I saw Reverb '10, I knew this would be the perfect way to do so. Since the last week has been super busy, I haven't been blogging. I finally decided to play catch up on these posts and make one large post. I hope you'll read trough it all!
To find out more about Reverb 10, check out the website!

Day 1: One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you're choosing that word. Now, imagine it's one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

I think I can sum up 2010 with the word growth. I did a whole lot of soul searching this year, and found out more about the type of person I am. I'm getting better at putting myself out there as well!
I want 2011 to be all about discovery. I want to get to know myself better, and I want to get to know my surroundings better.

Day 2: Writing. What do you do each day that doesn't contribute to your writing -- and can you eliminate it?

I don't consider myself a writer. I love writing, but don't feel like I'm particularly good at it. Blogging was a way for me to be able to work on my writing and get it out there for others to see. Since I love blogging, I don't let a whole lot get in the way of my writing. I know that I'm a procrastinator, so earlier this year, I decided to buckle down and write 5 posts a week. It's what works for me, and helps me make good use of this creative outlet.

Day 3: Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

The day we moved into our new house. That entire week (month, even!) I had been nervously anticipating that moment. I woke up that morning with a nervous excitement, and just wanted to get the day over with. I was so tired and sore from all of our hard work the day before, that I just didn't think I was going to ever walk in that front door. However, the moment I did walk in the door, I felt like a new person. This is the moment that both Stephen and I had been anticipating, and I was so happy to find out that I loved the place. We're really hoping to turn this into our home.

Day 4: Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

Working on the Women of Wonder project. The entire project is centered around 5 women from across Canada going on a journey to rediscover their wonder. I've been getting in touch with who I am and rediscovering things about myself that I had forgotten or pushed off to the side. This project is doing amazing things for me!

Day 5: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

I let go of a friend. Technically, she was the one who originally decided that she no longer wanted anything to do with me, but that just ended up being a wake up call for me. It made me realize just how taxing our friendship was on me, and what kind of a person it was turning me into. I suppose it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Day 6: Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

I "make" all the time. In fact, the boy I used to nanny for told me that I'm the best maker that he knows. Obviously, the making that I'm talking about here is baking. Surprisingly, baked goods were not the last thing I made! On Sunday, I put my new little craft area to good use and made some Christmas cards.

Day 7: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

The answer for this, without a doubt, is my blog community. I spent 2010 working and growing my blog, and thanks to that, I think I've developed a tight-knit group of blogging friends. They're all so amazing, and have been there for me at so many different points throughout the year.

Day 8: Beautifully different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different- you'll find they're what make you beautiful.

This may have to be my favorite prompt so far because I believe that we should celebrate people's differences. There's probably a million things that I could list off that makes me different from you, and I've learned that I need to embrace each and every one of them and love myself for who I am. I've really struggled with this (and still do), so it's important for me to stop and remind myself every so often that I'm actually not so bad after all.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

1. What do you order at Starbucks?
I typically go for a grande, extra hot, no whip white mocha. At Christmastime, it's a peppermint mocha. In the summer, its an iced coffee with milk and vanilla.

2. Where is your favorite place to eat breakfast?
Avenue Diner. The Avenue stuffed French toast makes me drool just thinking about it.

3. Are you on Twitter? Why or why not?
Yes, I am. I love the fact that I can tweet my thoughts and that someone out there may actually care! Twitter and blogging seem to go hand in hand.

4. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
I don't think I have a particular favorite, I just happen to really like a whole bunch. I do love that Rudolph cartoon though.

5. Are you a good gift giver?
I'd like to think I'm pretty decent.

6. Do you like your handwriting? Bonus points for posting a picture
No. I wish it was neater.

7. Is your signature legible? Bonus points for posting a picture.
Yes, it is.

8. Have you ever been to New York during Christmas season?
No, but I'd kill to go.

9. Are there any items that you are completely brand loyal?

I can't think of anything off the top of my head, but it probably all has to do with food. Oh! I prefer Coke over Pepsi.

10. Who is your favorite public speaker?
I don't have one. I'm definitely interested in reading what other people have to answer for this one though!

On Moving

First off, I drew the winners for the contest that I held last week. Out of 7 entries, I picked three winners:
Kara, Bean Plant, and Lindsay Ann. Congratulations ladies! I’ve emailed each of you to grab your addresses. If you haven’t sent them to me already, please do so as soon as possible so you can get your prize!

I'm guest posting at Brandy -son Zen Master Flash today...go check it out if you never saw my recipe for root beer bundt cake!

As you all now by now, last week we moved. Our apartment was great, and I absolutely adored living downtown (it had always been a dream of mine). The only problem was the size of the apartment; it was just too small. We started looking for a new place to rent when our lease was up, and in November, we found one. Confession: I didn’t see the new place until the day we moved in. Because of our conflicting work schedules, it could have taken weeks before Stephen and I could coordinate a day to go look at houses together, so when I found this place online, I told him to do what he thought was best. I trust his taste because it’s so similar to mine. Good news: I love the place.

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{The boxes in our apartment were piled to the ceiling so that we'd have some room to walk around}

Moving day started out a little rocky. Actually, it started out rocky before moving day even arrived. We found out that we couldn’t move into the new place until December 1st, which was a Wednesday. That means we had to move out of the apartment on November 30, spreading the move job over a period of two days and essentially being without a place to live for a night. Thankfully, I have my parents here who let us stay over for the night. Stephen and I had to both take two days off work, which is always tough for me since I’m the only employee!

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{We had lots of help! Our old roommate came by, as well as my sister and her boyfriend and my parents.}

Like I said, the morning of the first day of the move started out rough. The guy who was supposed to pick up the truck and drive it for us never showed up, he didn’t even call! Then U-Haul called to tell us that we had to go somewhere else to pick up our truck. After finally finding someone to come over to pick up our truck, we got another call from U-Haul: If we weren’t there in 15 minutes, we’d have to wait until after 3pm to pick up the truck because they were going to take a 2 hour lunch break. After some not so nice words, we finally got our truck. After that, moving actually went quite well. We’re fast movers!
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{The new place!}

I love our new place so much. We’ve moved into a townhouse that has three bedrooms. We’re using the extra rooms for a spare room and a computer/craft room. The best feature? Our very own washer and dryer! I’ve been doing so much laundry; it’s like Christmas came early! We also have enough room for a dining room table, which is huge for us because the last place didn’t have room for any sort of table.

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{My sister and I put together the table and chairs while the guys were out running errands}

The only downside to the place is the state that the previous tenants left it in. They didn’t do a very good job of cleaning it, but the landlord took some money off their deposit to give to us for the trouble. They also attempted to repaint over some holes and such…with entirely the wrong color! We now have to repaint quite a bit. We also think that they had either a dog or a cat (despite the fact that they weren’t allowed to), so we’re going to try and convince the landlord to replace the carpets. We don’t mind too much though, because it’s kind of fun having these little projects to do.

A proper tour of the house will come once we’re all finished setting everything up.
Do you have any moving day stories to share?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Guest Post: Simon’s Sista Saw

Many thanks to Sue for taking the time to write this post for me, I sincerely hope that you guys will take the time to check out her blog; she’s such a lovely person and I couldn’t recommend her blog more! I’ll be back next week to tell you all how the move went.

Whilst Angela is off busy moving (thinking of you guys!), I thought we could think ahead to her settling in to the new place, and making it feel like home. I've moved around a little bit, mainly since I've been an adult. A couple of share houses and out on my own (in Melbourne) then over to London and into another share house. I'm super lucky currently as I live in a great flat with great housemates but there are two things that really make a place feel like home to me.

Fragrance. Yep, a certain smell. Years ago (four flats ago) I fell in love with the Passion wax melt from Dusk (an Australian candle store). Ironic given the name and the relationship I was in at the time but the fragrance is just gorgeous. Ever since, it has been the fragrance I have in my house. So much so that more than one mate have commented when coming to my London flat for the first time that is smells just like my Melbourne flat. I stock up on the wax melts whenever I'm home.

Photos. Of all sorts. I have some family photos in frames on my bookshelves and window sills and scattered around the place. I also have a collection of black and white travel photos (including my home home real home, Melbourne) up on my main wall. Both collections are constantly growing but even in their current state, they're a lovely reminder of who I am, where I've come from and those who love me.

Of course, I love my bedding and my favourite mug as well. And I love it even more when friends show up with ready meals or for a cuppa - that's really the bees knees

What is it about your place that makes you feel at home?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Guest Post:

I'm so glad that Mel agreed to post for me today! I'm especially thankful that she was willing to share a recipe. Please go check out her blog, she has lots of yummy recipes!
Instead of having your usual Baking with Angela post today, I have been summoned to step in and help out while the wonderful lady finishes her big move. Consider me a substitute teacher in the weekly baking class.
I'm Rebel Mel and I run a little blog over at If you stop by, chances are, you'll be bombarded with all things cupcakes, kitties and bacon. In fact you may have even swung by at some point because Angela was nice enough to share her oatmeal cookie recipe with me. Each Friday I post "Domesticated Friday's," which is intended to help me [and anyone else who joins in] get in touch with my [our] inner Susie Homemaker[s]. I've been quite impressed with the Domesticated Friday posts I have stumbled across over the past yearish, so if you'd like to join in, swing by, steal my button and make sure you let me know so I can link to you!   I normally post recipes I have created myself, but because I celebrated Thanksgiving last Thursday, I have decided to walk you guys through the Sweet Potato Roll recipe I got from the Food Network Website.  
Why, you ask? Well, last week was my second time ever using yeast. The first time I made pizza crust, which wasn't too difficult, but the recipe I used didn't require a lot of kneading, rising and punching out. I've never made bread before. The crust I made was thin, and didn't come out that great, either. So needless to say, these rolls were pretty intimidating. And please, ignore the terrible photography in this post. I made these rolls on Thanksgiving and didn't feel like dragging out the DSLR, so I used my cell phone for the photos. You will need:
  • 2 packages of yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 eggs, one of which is beaten with two tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 cups four, plus extra for kneading
  • 1/2 cup cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
First, you're going to want to mix the yeast, one tablespoon of sugar and the water. I run the hot water on my sink just until I don't want to touch it. That's when I know it's hot enough. Let that sit for five minutes, it will start to get a little bubbly. This is called proofing. Add remaining sugar, butter, salt and two eggs to the yeast mixture and mix well. Stir in flour one cup at a time, then add mashed sweet potato.
Knead the dough on a floured surface until no longer sticky. Return the dough to an oiled bowl, oil the top and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, about an hour.
Punch down dough and form into two dozen golf ball size rolls. Place on a buttered cookie sheet two inches apart and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit until they double in size. Preheat oven to 375.
Brush the rolls with the egg and cream mixture. This is the step that I forgot to do. Oops. Bake for twenty minutes or until rolls are golden brown.
Even though I forgot to use the egg and cream mixture, the rolls were absolutely delicious. They went great with Thanksgiving dinner! I hope you all enjoyed my recipe, and I'd love to know if any of you decide to check it out. I'd like to thank Angela for letting me guest post on her blog! And lastly, don't be shy, come check out my blog!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Guest Post: Chatter

I absolutely love this post from Kara, it makes me all melty inside. Kara is an amazing Canadian girl and you really need to check out her blog!

Hey all you Craving Cupcakes followers! My name is Kara and I’m so happy to be able to guest post here on Angela’s blog. Every time I read one of her wonderful posts, it actually makes me want cupcakes :) You can find me over at my blog here.

When Angela said I could post about whatever I wanted, I had no idea what to talk about. Well, I did have some ideas but they all involved my insane wedding planning, and I’m sure you don’t want to read about my boring wedding and how hard it is to find a photographer on short-ish notice.

So, I thought I’d talk a little bit about love instead, or, more specifically, long-term love.

My boyfriend, or should I say fiancé, have been together for eight years. Eight! That means we’ve been together since we were 16, and for a lot of couples, that’s a long stinkin’ time!

Most “normal” couples start getting the marriage itch after dating for a couple years. We would’ve only been 18 if that were the case, and that’s much too young to get married for me.

A lot of people asked me, “Why are you still together if he hasn’t popped the question yet? Eight years is too long to be just boyfriend and girlfriend!” Another common one is, “I’m surprised you haven’t given up yet.”

Why would anyone give up though? Sure, patience is a virtue, but if you really, truly love a person, wouldn’t they be worth the wait? I certainly thought Kyle was worth the wait. And it wasn’t because of some weird commitment phobia. Personally, I think those are a lame excuse to not want to be with someone. Our reason for waiting eight years is simply timing. We were young when we got together, went to school, started our careers and bought a house.

One of my close friends once even said to me, “Kara, after 10 years if you guys still aren’t married, you should give up.” Ridiculous! Even though I am engaged now, I would never break it off because I don’t have a ring. I’d be happy with starting a family without getting married.

So, there’s nothing wrong with waiting to get married, or not getting married at all. Just look at Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Oprah and Steadman! And come on, if Prince William and Kate Middleton could wait eight years as well, so could I!

So tell me, How long would you wait? Do you think that if it’s love, it doesn’t matter?

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