Thursday, 20 December 2012

Christmas Breakfast

Today I woke to a land of white. To some of you, this may not seem like a big deal but where I'm from, this is a MIRACLE! There was seriously a blizzard outside all morning! I was overjoyed but I knew I had limited time to enjoy the snow since it would probably start raining by noon. First I took my dog for a walk in the snow, then I went for a walk and took some pretty pictures of the snow. Once I got home, it was time for breakfast. This breakfast had to be special and christmasy to match the snow. So I decided on cranberry-orange oatmeal. And... IT WAS AWESOME!!! The flavours were so christmasy it just filled me with joy as my mom and I sat eating, looking out at the ever-falling snow. And so, I thought I'd share it with you :) Afterall, christmas is all about sharing and spreading holiday cheer isnt it? 

Okie dokie. So this makes two good sized and filling servings.

-2 1/4 cups water
-1/4 tsp salt
-2/3 cup steel cut or other longer-cooking oats *see note
-1/4 cup bran flakes
-1/2 to 1 cup fresh cranberries
-zest of 1/2 orange
-2 tbsp coconut
-2 tbsp brown sugar

Bring your water to a boil. Add in everything else and cook according to the oatmeal package instructions. Now just sweeten it more to taste; add milk if thats how you like it; watch some falling snow, or if there is none go eat in front of your Christmas tree and enjoy the holidays. 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Gingerbread cookies!!

Christmas cookies... There's something special about Christmas cookies. They aren't simply a cookie. At least not for my family... They're a bite of a season, a season of joy, laughter, happiness, family and friends. Everytime I bite into a gingerbread cookie my mind flashes back to memories of when I was a kid. I remember decorating a homemade gingerbread house when I was little with gum drops, icing, smarties, sprinkles, chocolate buds, all these candies my mom bought for me with the small bit of money she had. I loved it! We spent a whole day icing on roof shingles, sticking on goodies, and making mini stain glass windows out of those cute little orange slice shaped gum drop candies... I refused to eat the house for a good week because I thought it was so precious :P
Moments and memories like this are what Christmas is all about. The little things that make you happy are the things you remember. 

Now back to the gingerbread cookies... I've already made two batches of gingerbread this December and I've now found the perfect recipe which I will share with you guys today. I hope you enjoy them and they bring you Christmas cheer like they do me. 

Optional ingredients: 
Butter icing or icing/glaze of your choice
Mini candies/chocolates (smarties are great for gingerbread men buttons!!)
Sprinkles :)

Mix together:
3 cups white flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
11/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves

Cream then beat until light and fluffy:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter

Beat in:
3/4 cup molasses
1 egg

Gently stir in the dry ingredients until it sticks together. Have a small bowl of water next to you do you can spritz a bit of water into the mix if its just too dry. Now form it into a ball (it should be moist enough to stick together when compressed gently into a ball). Now put it into either a plastic bag or wrap it in plastic wrap. I thought my dough looked too dry so I sprinkled some water into my back onto the dough. 
Let the dough chill for at least two hours so the moisture can absorb and the dough can roll out. Take it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before rolling it so it can warm and soften up.

Now. Take your dough out and break it in half. If it crumbles, you have a problem. If this is the case, wet your hands and gently knead the two pieces of dough, trying to make it moist enough so it will 
stick together gosh darn it!! I know this is annoying and tedious but all this work, care, and gentleness is what makes for perfect soft cookies. Once your dough is cooperating and sticking together, shape it into a ball and put it on a lightly floured table. 

Now roll it out to 1/6 to 1/4 inch thickness by rolling from the centre out. 

Here's the time to take out your trusty cookie cutters. Cut out your cutest, favorite shapes and put them on the cookie sheet. Now take your leftover scraps and mush them together and knead a little bit so it becomes a new ball. All throughout the cookie making process you should be gentle with the dough because the more you mix it, the tougher the dough will get. You should also try to maximize the number of cookies you can squeeze into each roll, again, so they don't get tough. 
Throw your cookies in the oven, trying to bake ones of the same relative side at the same time so some don't get cooked more than others. Bake them for 4-10 minutes. This depends a lot on your oven, cookie thickness, and size. You really just have to be careful to check them. Don't worry if you burn some, you'll get the feel of it soon :) Now you can repeat the process with your new ball of dough until you've cut up all the dough.
Take them out and put them on a rack to cool while you bake the others ones. Once they have cooled you can decorate them however your heart desires. This is totally the best part :D here's some of mine to give you some ideas. 

Hope you are all having a great Christmas!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Day 3: up-cycled sweaters

Welcome to the third day of Christmas! :)
Today I thought I'd share some cool ideas for up-cycling those old and/or oddly shaped sweaters that don't fit quite right. Am I the only one who has a billion sweaters in really nice patterns that never get worn because something about their shape is just wrong? Anyone else have this problem? Yes? Great, you're all set for this project :) No? Just hit a thrift store! They have tons of awesome (and oddly shaped) sweaters! 
Let's begin!

So there's 3 DIYs I'm going to show here. 
1. Sweater to skirt:
How awesome does this skirt look? It's so cozy for winter when you're just dying to wear a skirt but the weather is not all permitting. Just pair it up with some thick, warm tights, some boots, a sweater, a toque and you're all set. 

2. Sweater to cowl:
I saw this on pinterest and it looked so cute I just had to try it. A great idea since scarves are so darn over priced!

3. Sweater to bag:
My friend had a purse that looked like winter sweater fabric and I thought "Omg, that would be such a great idea, a sweater purse!" So I googled some images for inspiration and I saw this one. I haven't actually tried it yet but I definitely will soon! Ill post a tutorial when I do :)

Hope these give you some inspiration. I guess that's it for now. See you guys tomorrow for day 4! :)

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Guilt-free Starbucks drinks

Winter is actually one of my favorite seasons. Mostly because of Christmas... But what also makes me love it is the cold weather. It makes you so much more appreciative of when you're warm. I don't know about you but I bus and walk a lot and there's nothing like clasping a warm cup of yumminess in your hands as you stand waiting in the bitter cold. I'm sure everyone knows what I mean. This is why Starbucks is just so great. It warms you up inside and out. I also love how you can customize your drinks and have control over the calorie content in them. I never used to get Starbucks because I thought everything was too fattening but with careful customization (and sometimes a tad of awkwardness when your drink directions are so long...) they are quite within weight loss range. For these reasons, I have chosen to create a list of awesome guilt-free Starbucks drinks you would never have thought up.

The key things to making your drinks guilt-free is nonfat milk; no whip; and when possible, sugar free syrups. However, another way to cut calories (and $$) and not taste is switching from latte to cafe misto. Its pretty much the same thing except instead of a whole lot of milk and a little espresso, you get half brewed coffee and half steamed milk. Don't bother with those ready to go expensive gingerbread lattes (that aren't actually very good... Ill give you a better recipe to make at home that is to DIE for!) or those caramel brullee lattes that are 400 calories each... Try one of these :)

1. Carmel-toffee "latte":
My new all time favorite creation. It is SO GOOD!!
It has only 110 calories in a grande, but if you're opposed to ordering sugar free syrups you can also enjoy it at 150

here are your drink's components:
-grande cafe misto
-nonfat milk
-2-3 pumps of sugar-free caramel syrup
-2 pumps toffee nut syrup

Here's how to order it:
"Hi there, could I get a grande nonfat cafe misto (here you should pause a second to let them get that down before your syrup shpeel) with 2 pumps of sugar free caramel syrup and 2 pumps of toffee nut syrup?"

Yes... I know... It's long and somewhat embarrassing to say but you'll get used to it and it is well worth the effort.

2. Hazelnut and caramel caffe misto:
for grande:
-nonfat caffe misto
-2 pumps each sugar free caramel and sugar free hazelnut

3. Peppermint-nut misto:
A little like a peppermint mocha but... Not...? Its great for if you don't really like the Starbucks mochas (like me).
110 calories in a grande
-nonfat cafe misto
-2 pumps each sugar-free hazelnut and peppermint syrup

4. Guilt-free cinnamon gingerbread "latte": a twist on the gingerbread latte that adds seasonal yum!
70 calories in a grande, if they don't have the sugar free gingerbread then it would be 110.
-nonfat cafe misto
-2 pumps each sugar free gingerbread and sugar free cinnamon dolce syrup

5. Faux caramel brûlée latte:
110 calories to a grande ( see a trend? ;P). I designed this purely to imitate a caramel brûlée latte but with less calories as the real thing has at least 300 even with skim milk and no whip.
-nonfat cafe misto
-2 pumps each sugar free caramel syrup and caramel brûlée sauce

For those of you who like the mochas... Try a skinny mocha with your favorite syrups, preferably sugar free ones. Just remember that a plain skinny mocha packs 140 calories per grande and non sugar free syrups have 20-40 calories a pump.

Here's some ideas, though I haven't tried them.

-toffee nut (20 cals a pump) and sugar-free caramel mocha
-Nutella mocha: with sugar-free hazelnut syrup and a pump or two of toffee nut... I'm gonna try this actually ;P

Well, I hope you guys try some of these, I promise they won't disappoint (especially the caramel-toffee "latte"!!). Have a warm and cozy Christmas!!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Day 1: Bucket List and Xmas Songs

Hey there. Welcome to the first day of Christmas!

Christmas is just great; there's so many different things to do during the season. Everyone has their own family traditions, things they like to do... My family is really one for Christmas baking. But sometimes I find it hard to think of things to do besides bake gingerbread cookies; this poses a problem because cookies, fudge, muffins, chocolates, all these are not exactly good for your body... In moderation yeah sure! It's great to indulge :) But anyways, sometimes we happen upon a loss of ideas for what to do during Christmas. For this reason I thought I'd start the 12 days of Christmas with... A Christmas Bucket List! Yay! Hopefully it will give everyone some ideas for what to do this December :)

Christmas bucket list:
1. Go skating. 
2. Go tobogganing/tubing. 
3. Visit somewhere snowy
4. Go to a Christmas lights display (something like this)
5. Drink hot chocolate
6. Make a gingerbread house
7. Bake Christmas cookies
8. Look at lights
9. Make a wreath
10. Go see Santa
11. Collect for a food bank
12. Give out Christmas packs to homeless (consisting of cookies, other food, toothbrush, toothpaste, dollar store scarf/hat/gloves etc)
13. Make a snowman
14. Watch a Christmas movie
15. Knit/crochet a hat
16. Read a children's Christmas picture book
17. Make paper snowflakes
19. Clove oranges
20. Pick out a Christmas tree
21. Listen to Christmas music!

Speaking of Christmas music... How about a master Christmas music list? Yes? Going once! Going twice! Sold! Okay here ye'are ;)

1. The Christmas song-Stevie Wonder
2. Happy Christmas-John Lennon 
3. White Christmas 
4. Rocking around the Christmas tree
5. Santa baby-Madonna
6. All I want for Christmas is you-Mariah Carey
7. Christmas in New Orleans-Louis Armstrong 
8. Suzy snowflake-Rosemary Clooney
9. The Christmas alphabet-Dickie Valentine
10. The night before Christmas 
11. All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth
12. Santa Bring my baby back to me-Elvis Presley 
13. Winter wonderland-Dean Martin
14. The 12 days of Christmas-Bing Crosby
15. One little Christmas tree-Stevie Wonder
16. Mistletoe and Holly-Frank Sinatra 
17. Christmas cards-Petula Clark
18. The chipmunk song
19. Blue Christmas-Elvis Presley
20. Christmas time-Bryan Adams
21. Frosty the Snow man
22. It's the most wonderful time f the year-Johnny Mathis
23. Have yourself a merry little Christmas
24. Jingle bell rock
25. It's the greatest time of year-Aly and AJ
26. Snoopy vs. the red baron
27. Merry christmas polka-The Andrews sisters 
28. Please come home for Christmas-Aaron 
29. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
30. Silver bells
31. Santa Clause got stuck in my chimney
32. Silent Night: Elvis Presley
33.  Oh holy night
34. Rudolph the red nosed reindeer
35. Feliz navidad
36. Santa Claus is back in town- Elvis Presley 
37. "Zat you Santa Claus?"-Louis armstrong 
38. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas 
39. oh come all ye faithful
40. Hark the herald angels sing
41. Deck the halls
42. I saw three ships come sailing in 
43. The holy and the ivy 
44. Away in a manger
45. Baby it's cold outside
46. Christmas is here-Donna summer
47. A Charlie Brown's Christmas (whole album)
48. Happy Holiday-Bing Crosby
49. Here come Santa Claus
50. The little boy that Santa Claus forgot-Arthur Tracy

Well, I hope you guys have a great December :) hopefully these lists help.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

DIY sweater skirt

Recently I've really been getting into the holiday spirit. I try to pretend this is the "wintry" spirit but in all honesty, it's really just that I'm getting over-excited for Christmas. I've also been getting really crafty recently (particularly "wintry" crafts). So when my mom held up this hideous old sweater vest and asked me if I wanted it, I said yes! After my initial reaction of "ew no" that is.
 And now, I have a cute knit skirt to wear during the winter (and Christmas!) months :)

So now I'll share with you my DIY sweater skirt. Don't be judgemental of my very simple and bad sewing skills, I pretty much NEVER sew so this was one of my first real tries.

-unwanted sweater/vest
-sewing machine (well I suppose you could do it by hand...)
-scissors (good scissors or they wont cut the fabric)
-thread in similar colour to you sweater
-elastic band that fits your waist snugly and is at least 2" thick

Lets begin!

Okay so first you begin with an unwanted sweater or vest. Here's mine below... As you can see it's not exactly what you'd call trendy.

So then you cut across below the arms or however long you want your skirt to be, allowing about 1" of seam allowance. I was restricted to how long I could make mine because of the arms being pretty low. 

Once you've done that, sew the top of your skirt to the elastic band using a zig-zag stretch stitch. Make sure the inside of your skirt is what's touching the elastic like below. I had to gather my skirt a little bit to match it to the elastic.

Now take your skirt and fold the elastic and seam inside so that your top is where you want it to be like this... After you've done that you can sew the skirt to the bottom of the elastic with another seam along the bottom of the elastic. Now your skirt should look like this :) 

And now you can wear it and be all cozy like this :) Good luck not getting excited for Christmas when you wear your new skirt...

Tell me what you guys think :)

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Hard work

Hi everyone. I've gotten into a writing about what I'm thinking mood. That plus the fact that I found there is a blogger app so I can write things on my phone equals = me blathering on about what has been going through my head.
This morning it's hard work. Mostly related to dance. You see, dancers, but in particular ballet dancers work HARD. Take how much work a scientific PhD student does and then add physical stress and injuries. That is how hard a ballet dancer works, and I don't think most people realize that. Probably because ballet, being an art is meant to look completely effortless and easy. You don't want to see a dancer finish their dance and then sit down on the floor panting and drinking a sip of water between breaths.
Anyways, the point is, with all this hard work it's often very overwhelming. Often you're cursing all the hard work you put in to it and wondering if it's worth it. The past two days however, my mind has... Shifted. I woke up this morning and thought to myself with a smile "I'm working so hard" and "at this rate I'm going to improve so much". I even thought "I cant wait to get to dance today so I can keep working hard". My hard work has become something I'm proud of and excited about. Am I ranting too much? I feel like I'm probably boring you. Oh well, I guess that's the beauty of blogs. If people don't want to read it, they don't and you're none the worse from it.
Well, those of you who have made it through all that, I hope you find pride and eagerness in your hard work like I have.