Thursday, 30 May 2013

Count your Blessings, Instead of Sheep...

**NOTE: This is a re-post from my old blog. As I JUST had a birthday, I was reminded in a BIG way how blessed I truly am. We all have our struggles (emotional, financial, mental etc) but at the end of the day, we are SO SO blessed for everything that we have. Tonight, if you are tossing and turning, take a moment to think about all the blessings you have in your life. It will help calm your stressed out mind.**

Well, I've found myself on ANOTHER sleepless night. What is even MORE frustrating, there is no REAL reason for my "Insomnia" other than this annoying cough I've had for over 2 weeks, but even then, once the coughing has subsided I can't get back to sleep. So FIRST I started counting sheep and quickly realized I do not have the attention span and start thinking about the Serta claymation sheep, then start thinking about Sleep Country and then start thinking about retail and then start thinking about work.

Then, a fond memory popped into my head of "White Christmas" and the part when Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney sing about counting your blessings when you can't sleep. SO, here goes:
  • Jon - the love of my life and my soon to be husband. There is nothing we can't get through together, and he always keeps a smile on my face
  • Family - Even though we're not your "typical" family any more, I still know my parents will be for me not matter what, and I have the best damn sister a girl could ask for
  • Friends - next to Jon, my friends are my lifeline and without them, I wouldn't be where I am today or who I am today (not sure if that is a good thing, or a bad thing :))
  • Health - Over my years, I've struggled a lot with keeping healthy and staying in shape. Since finding Zumba, I am in the best shape of my life and even though my body isn't at my desired weight, I'm still very healthy and get at least 4 hours of intense cardio every week
  • Work - I have a job, and for a lot of Canadians out there, that is HUGE. In fact, I have TWO (teaching is a part time job, but still a job)
  • Home - I have a roof over my head and Jon to share it with! 
NOW if you STILL can't sleep, listen to this song, does it for me EVERY time! --> PLUS you can try drinking tea (I'm drinking a cup of "Soothe Mint" tea) so here's hoping sleep is next!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

We're Going Streaking!

How clever right? Here you think I'm talking about going naked, but I tricked you! Oh boy am I witty & clever...right? Right??????

Okay, I know, it's a cheap ploy to get your attention, but hopefully it worked (it's all for a good reason, I promise!)

Last week, my dear running buddy/guru posted on her Facebook page about something that Runner's World is promoting called "Summer Run Streak" where every day between Memorial Day (May 27) and Independence Day (July 4) you run ONE MILE (1.6 km) every day! I got really excited when I saw this because a) I've been in a bit of a running slump and b) my cute little poochie needs to run more (walks just don't cut it) so I'll have a running buddy every time I go out. Isn't she cute???

Now, I'm not only posting this to tell you all that I'm going to be running EVERY DAY for the next little bit (what have I gotten myself into?), I'm posting because I want to encourage YOU to try this challenge!!!!!!

Now, the folks at Running World suggest you don't run every day unless you have been training for 6 months + (see FAQ's here) BUT never fear, I have a plan! Instead of running 1.6KM every day try run/jog/shuffle one day and walk the next! Either way, it will only take you 10-15 mins, and is the perfect after dinner activity or early morning wake-up!

Take your kids! Take your pooch! Take your hubs/wifey! Whoever and whatever, take the 10-15mins every day until July 4 and give it a shot! If you've missed a couple of days, no big deal, just continue until July 6 instead!

Let me know how it goes, I'd love to hear your story!!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

A couple of weekends ago we had people over to watch UFC *shudder* We were out buying snacks for the get together when Jon picked out a bag of pretzels to put out. I was all "Who on EARTH likes Pretzels? They're the part of the snack mix I eat first so that all I'm left with after are the yummy bits"

Turns out, EVERYONE at the party liked pretzels except for me. The cheese stands alone, I guess!

While I still don't get the big deal about them, I had some left over & saw this recipe so I thought, let's give it a go!

SO SO good! There are so many amazing flavours and textures going on when you bite into these...they are just great! PLUS, you can break them up into lots of tiny pieces, so they last you quite a long time (which for us means almost a whole week)!

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

1/2 bag of mini pretzel twists 
1 cup butter (or 2 sticks)
1 cup brown sugar
1 bag of chocolate chips (I used Milk Chocolate)
Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet aluminum foil and cover with your pretzels. I wanted to make sure there was complete pretzel coverage, so I broke a few up and filled in the holes. Then I got impatient and stopped doing that. 

In a medium saucepan, on low heat, melt the butter and sugar together until completely combined and sugar is dissolved. Bring to a gentle boil and continue stirring. It will start to form a smooth & thick caramel (anywhere from 5-10 minutes, be patient with this one)
Once it is nice & thick, pour the caramel over your pretzels. Not every pretzel will be covered & that is okay. Put in the oven for 5 mins.

Take out of the oven (the pretzels will look a little like mush, and that is okay!) and sprinkle the chocolate chips over top (go crazy, you can never have too much chocolate, right?) and stick back in the oven for 1 minute more.

Use a spatula to spread the chocolate over the pretzels so it is one, uniform layer. Sprinkle the sea salt over top. I decided not to go TOO wild with the salt since the pretzels are quite salty already.
Let it cool for a few minutes on your counter and then pop it into the freezer for two to three hours. Again, we lasted a whole 45 minutes before we broke off our first piece, but it was still a little gooey (not a bad thing mind you).

When we brought it to work for lunches the next day, it was still soft & chewy and not crunchy & hard, which was great!

On a side note: one thing that I really love about treats like this is, once they are made, you can break them into little bite-sized pieces and store them in the freezer for when you need a sweet treat. Pop one of these bad boys into your mouth, and your sweet craving is totally satisfied (and your salty craving, thanks to the pretzels!) Plus, because of the small size, you can have a couple of pieces which makes it feel a little like cheating, but really, it isn't...unless you eat 10 pieces *cough*


- Lisa
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Monday, 20 May 2013

Sour Cream Pancakes

So, for the past few months I've been really watching the blog of The Pioneer Woman. That woman's blog is pure food porn. I could just gaze for hours at her amazing food pictures (and pictures of her life on a ranch). Turns out she's a HUGE deal and everyone except for me has known about her for sometime, but better late than never, right? Anyway, I spend a lot of time on her blog.

So, on one of my many reading/drooling/gazing sessions, I came across a recipe for Pancakes. This made me excited for many reasons, one being my hubby has a weird obession with pancakes (we're talking Pancakes for dinner, people) and also, I hate buying the boxed stuff (tastes like powder, yech). I was pretty pumped to try them.

Since we're on a very tight budget, it took about 2-3 weeks before I was willing to spend $4 or whatever redonk price sour cream is. Once I did though, these were the first thing I made.

I will NEVER go back to the boxed kind. EVER. These are so light & fluffy, smell amazing and are just YUM!

Edna Mae's Sour Cream Pancakes

2 Eggs
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
7 tbsp of flour (yes, that's it!)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Sour Cream
Butter for your frying pan & serving
WARM syrup (how cute is that!)

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and the vanilla and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour (only 7tbsp, amazing!) sugar, baking soda and salt. Next, add the sour cream and mix (just barely combine, it won't feel mixed enough, but trust me, it is!)

Whisk in the egg & vanilla mixture until JUST combined.

Heat a griddle (such a great word, just sounds yummy) to medium low and melt some butter. Using a 1/4 cup, pour batter onto the griddle. Now here is the magic - wait until the top is all bubbly and the edges are brown and then flip.

Cook them on the second side for about 1 minute. They are quite soft, so make sure you don't overcook them!

My griddle (ok, electric frying pan) is quite small so I can only make 4 at a time, so while the second batch is being made, I put the first batch into the oven at the VERY lowest temp possible. This keeps them warm, but doesn't try them out (a trick I learned from my Grandma!) 

Next, serve them with butter and warm syrup (seriously, this makes a difference) and enjoy!!!!!!!

Also, do yourself a favour and go check out The Pioneer Woman's blog. Her pictures are amazing!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Lessons from AA

Recently, a very dear friend of mine has started going to AA. When I went to the first meeting with her, I went purely to be there to support her as she was still very early on in the program. As the meeting was later in the evening, we went for dinner first and she warned us that at the meeting there was a lot of talk about “God” and about a higher being. Growing up in a Mennonite Church this didn’t bother me at all, but I was somewhat curious about how this would fit into what they did at an AA meeting. 

I had some preconceived notions about AA. You know, the part you see in countless movies, shows and comedy sketches that they stand up and say “Hi I’m ____ and I’m an Alcoholic” (much to my surprise, this part is still true!) Other than that, I didn’t really know what to expect. Oh, and now that there was a lot of mention about God. 

I won't go into all the details of the meeting, but when I left, I was VERY near to tears. Not only was I so proud of my friend for everything she had accomplished, but also because of the amazing life lessons that group had to offer. I couldn’t help but feel that if all of us on this earth lead our lives according to the way members of AA lead theirs, this world would be a better place. 

For example: Principles before personality. When you put a bunch of people together in the same room, you’re bound to have a conflict of interests. The great thing about principles before personality, it doesn’t matter what you think of the other person, you respect them for who they are and the challenges they are going through. You don’t have to be their best friend, you don’t even have to like them. You DO know that what they are going through is difficult, and that as a member you are responsible for helping them in their journey. 

 How amazing is that? Can you imagine a world where we all accept that we don’t like each other, but we respect the other person’s journey? We all have our shit. We’re all fighting a battle of some sort whether it be emotionally, physically, mentally or all three. We are all humans trying to fight our way and trying to make sense of this life we are given. 

Another part of the meeting that really stuck with me was the reading of this poem: 

The Man in the Glass
Peter Dale Wimbrow Sr.  

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
Whose judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest
For he’s with you, clear to the end
And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

At the end of the day, you only have YOU to answer to. Not your boss, not your friends, not the lady across the street judging you because you’re kids are wearing sandals in the middle of winter, YOU. At the end of the day, you alone are responsible for what actions you take and what happens in your life. I think if every once in a while we all look internally for answers instead of externally for material objects or be the way we THINK we should be according to someone else…we would all be a lot happier. 

So the next time you want to smack someone or the next time you see a judgey mc judgerson walk by you, smile at them. I promise you they are fighting their own battle...

The next time you want to put the blame on someone or something else (I can’t run today because I’m too busy, I’m too fat, but I don’t have time to work out) look at yourself in the mirror and remember, YOU are responsible for how you handle this life you are given.

I could go on for hours about what else AA has taught me, but for now, I'll leave you with this: 

Life is a gift…cherish it.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Running Woes

Now, I KNOW that since my half marathon I have definitely not been on the top of my running game. I also know that I didn't exactly "train" for this 10K. Initially I signed up for it just to make sure I kept running after my half and didn't have any plans of trying to make a specific time or anything like that.

Until I got to the race, that is.

FIRST of all, it was cold as arse. Honestly, I've run in -20 degree Celsius and this day felt colder. By the time we got into our coral to start, I was frozen to the bone. My legs didn't want to work and I couldn't feel my toes. When we finally DID start to run, I was a brick of ice until about 10 mins in. I think that made me want to run faster.

Second of all, there were SO MANY PEOPLE at this race. It was absolutely insane.

Image from Toronto Star

 The energy was really neat too. Many people were there just to race, but a lot of people were there for the cause. On the back of everyone's shirts we were to fill out a sticker that said "We Run _____________." For us, we ran for Gillie. It was SO awesome to run and read what everyone had put. Some were inspiring "We Run for hope and for those that cannot" others were just plain HONEST "We Run so we can eat Cupcakes" (HOLLA) and others downright funny "We Run to beat the Kenyans" (true story, I can't make that stuff up). The whole time I felt amped.

At about 5K, I figured we were going at a pretty good clip. We had to dodge a lot of people and manuever around walkers, but I thought we were going really fast. So fast in fact I was SURE we would make it in an hour, maybe just over. Near the end, Ange and I BOOKED it across the finish line. It was a fantastic race.

So, why was/am I so bummed that our time was actually 1hr 13mins? Maybe because everyone that I've talked to who went to the race (which was pretty much all of the GTA) beat their best time or very close. Maybe because I feel a little discouraged that my "fast" wasn't really that "fast"? Maybe because that makes me feel like I'm not as in good a shape as I thought? Maybe I need to take my running to the next level...

I guess that's the funny thing about running, even when you think you've learned it all, experienced it all and understood it, you still learn something. Touche running, touche.

At the end of it all, I finished it, and I really enjoyed it, so I'll focus on that! Plus, got to spend some time with my FAVE running buddies <3

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Ooey Gooey Butter Bars

Holy sweet jeebus. These things are DEEEELISH. I found this recipe quite some time ago on the same site as the amazing Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars, but hadn't gotten around to buying the cream cheese (that sh*t is expensive!) So last night, JJ and I took Molly for a walk and stopped in at the corner store to pick up the missing ingredients ($6 later...sheesh).

TOTALLY WORTH IT. I brought a couple to work for people to try and J got mad that I was sharing (who raised that boy?) because he loved them so much!
Important to note that these are really only ooey and gooey when you first take them out of the oven. After they are just soft and delightful.

P.S. these are also nut-free for my crazy friend A who must be the ONLY person in the planet who doesn't like peanut butter (weirdoooooo).

Ooey Gooey Butter Bars

1 box of yellow cake mix (although might be fun to try other flava flaves)
1 egg
1/2 cup of butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 brick/cup of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened (don't mess around with no name for this this one, just get the name brand. Trust me.)
2 cups powdered sugar

Pre-heat oven to 325 and grease a 9x13 pan (I think mine was 9 x 13, but I don't really know)

Mix the cake mix, egg and butter together until completely blended and smooth. Press into your pan:
Next, beat your 2 eggs together in a bowl. Add the softened cream cheese, (make sure it is quite soft, otherwise you'll get weird lumps in your mixture) and the powdered sugar. Pour this mixture on top of your base layer:
Now, Lil' Luna said to bake it for 40-45 mins. However, I found mine was ready to come out in 30mins. Just make sure you watch it and take it out when the edges start to go golden brown.

When it's all good to go, "sprinkle" on some powdered sugar. I don't have one of the nice metal mesh strainers to sprinkle it on, so I just kind of used my fingers:

Don't Judge.
It's probably best to wait until this have cooled...I waited a whole 10 mins until I dove right in. Yum yum yummers!


- Lisa
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Monday, 6 May 2013

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookie Bars

So the other night, around 8pm, I was sitting on the couch, watching baseball (woooooo...) and feeling restless. We hadn't gone grocery shopping in about 2 weeks so my baking supplies were limited but I HAD to get up and do something. Running had helped earlier in the evening, but my twitchy legs were back. 

So, I took to trusty Pinterest to help solve my baking woes. I kid you not, the FIRST pin that I saw was this guy here. I got excited because I thought MAYBE I would have all the ingredients, so excitedly I clicked through to the page and lo and behold, even in Mother Hubbards bare kitchen, I still had enough ingredients to bake this *happy dance*

So, I made up a batch, using this exact recipe from Lil' Luna and they lasted all of 2 days in our apartment because they were THAT DERN GOOD!

Thursday eve rolls around, baking supplies are even LOWER but I needed another treat to leave my hubs while I was away for the weekend. I still had almost everything in the original recipe except the neccessary amount of butter.

What is a girl to do?

When in doubt, add peanut butter (I just made that up, PB is not always the answer. Neither is drugs, kids)


1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sifted flour (I don't own a sifter, so I just stir the lumps out of the flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and greese a 9 x 9 Baking Pan (I didn't have one, so I used a Cornell casserole dish instead...don't judge)

Melt butter, sugar and peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl until melted (you will need to stir a couple of times during this process). Set aside and let cool.

**I am extremely impatient with this kind of thing so I danced around the kitchen for a little bit, played with Molly and bugged my hubby. **

Once it it cool, or coolish in my case, add the egg and vanilla and mix together until well combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and blend well.

Press mixture into your baking pan. Next (don't you worry, silly goose, I didn't forget the chocolate!) sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. Go wild with them, but don't be excessive.

Put in the oven and bake for about 20-25 mins or until it is golden brown and you can do the toothpick thing. You know, where you put the toothpick in and if it comes out clean, it's done?

Again, allow to cool for as long as you can. Again, in our household this was approximately 3.5 mins.

*NOTE* If you're making this for a party or a dinner or more than just you and your significant other, I would double the recipe. However, J doesn't like to share, so I don't need to worry about taking this anywhere.

Also, this would taste SPECTACULAR with ice cream.