summer bucket list {i’m baaackk}

Hi guuyyyss (what I really mean is, hi mom!)!

I’m back!

Did you miss me?

Okay, while I’m sure no one is out there waiting for me, it feels good to get back to this space! I first started this blog when I was unemployed and eager to create something that I had put off for a long time! And then I got a job …

Obviously this is a GOOD thing, but it made for less time to blog, and this space sort of fell to the way side. I’ve decided though, that I need to make this a priority! I love writing, and documenting the things that happen in my life, and it’s time that I make time for this!

So here I am! That new job I mentioned is in the not-for-profit sector, and is vastly different than my last job (my first ever big girl job, if you recall!) but I like it a lot and I’m learning a ton! A lot has happened in the past year (and 3 months, good lord it’s been a long time hasn’t it?) that I wish I had taken the time to document, including a trip to Europe with my man friend, an entire summer packed with fun, a trip to NYC, some weddings, an engagement (not mine, but one of my best friends in the whole wide world!), lots of family trips and so much more! So here I am, vowing to document all of the excitement that is bound to happen from this day forward!

To kick it off, I thought that I would create a summer bucket list of sorts! I always go into the summer months with a list of things that I want to do, and I feel like officially typing and posting them might ensure that these things actually happen. Here we go:

  • Try Stand Up Paddle-boarding
  • Try surfing
  • Do yoga outside
  • Go canoeing or kayaking (or both!)
  • Spend a weekend at a cottage
  • Make a keg out of a watermelon
  • Sit by a bonfire
  • Eat s’mores (at said bonfire)
  • BBQ anytime I get the chance
  • Take a tour of Beau’s Brewery
  • Go hiking as much as possible
  • Attend at least one outdoor concert
  • Buy fruits and veggies from the farmer’s market
  • Go to a baseball game
  • Read lots and lots of books, preferably in parks
  • Go to a water park
  • Take walks after dinner
  • Go to a drive-in movie
  • Eat more meals outside
  • Sit and drink on way too many patios
  • Go to the zoo
  • Make my own popsicles
  • Go as long as I can without blow-drying my hair
  • Take a bike ride
  • Sleep outside
  • And finally, and this is a big one folks … consistently blog.

Do you think I can cross of everything on my list? Do you have a summer bucket list?

new {to me} food finds.

Hey guys!

Happy first day of spring!

It sure doesn’t feel like spring over here in the nation’s capital, I’ll tell ya that much!

Check out this picture that the Ottawa Citizen posted on their Instagram today comparing March 2012 and March of this year:

no fair!

not fair!

I WISH. I’m so sick of all this snow!

Let’s ease my sorrows by talking about food, shall we?

When it comes to food, I’m usually quite the creature of habit. I sort of stick to what I know, with the occasional new recipe thrown in to keep me from getting bored, BUT, every once in a while a new product gets thrown into my shopping cart and sometimes (but ONLY sometimes) that product is just so darn good that I keep it around in my regular food rotation (what an honor, right?).

When this happens, I usually proclaim it to be my new favorite food, and I text all of my friends to let them know that they NEED to try it immediately. Now that I have this handy dandy blog, I can tell all my new internet friends about these foods too. So, that’s what I’m going to do today!

These foods are some of my newest finds, and I think that you all deserve to know about them:

1. Nature’s Path Organic Sunrise Crunchy Vanilla cereal 

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You guys … this cereal tastes EXACTLY like Nesquik Cereal! I know you’re all thinking “Alyssa, you must be crazy because this stuff is VANILLA flavored and Nesquik is CHOCOLATE”, but I kid you not! I’ve had many taste-testers confirm that this does in fact taste like the chocolatey cereal we all ate as kids (disclaimer: it does not turn your milk chocolate).

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But besides how delicious this stuff is, the stats and the ingredient list aren’t too shabby either! I buy it at my local Loblaws, but rumor has it they sell it in even bigger boxes at Costco (thanks for that tip Britt!). Oh and it’s also gluten free and non-GMO. Bonus!

2. Kind Bars

I know you guys, I'm really good at food photography.

I know you guys, I’m really good at food photography.

I feel like I might be a little late to the Kind Bar party, because I know a lot of people already love these things – but if I can spread the word to just one more person, my mission will be complete!

I’ve tested a lot of snack bars (is that what I should call them? snack bars? that’s what I’ll go with) in my day, and these are definitely on my list of favorites. They’re so perfectly crunchy and the flavors are rad (peanut butter dark chocolate is my top contender, for the record). I’ve been carrying one around in my purse lately for hunger emergencies, and let’s just say they don’t usually stay in there long enough for an “emergency” to occur.

Again, I buy these at my local Loblaws, but I imagine they’re sold in tons of stores, and I know that some Starbucks locations carry them too!

3. Sweet Chili Pistachios 

if only they could de-shell themselves ...

if only they could de-shell themselves …

Okay, I know that pistachios aren’t a “new” thing, but THESE pistachios are so delicious and addictive that I had to mention them. So go buy them immediately (the only place I’ve been able to find this flavor is at Metro!), and eat them in one 6 hour sitting … because that’s how long it would take me to de-shell and eat a 200g bag of Sweet Chili Pistachios.

I’m just kidding, try to ration them. Try …

4. Vitafusion MultiVites Gummy Vitamins for Adults

Costco sized!

Costco sized!

Sean and I bought these at Costco about a month ago, and they will forever be my daily multivitamin of choice. I take one each morning and they taste like candy. Candy in the morning … need I go on? I didn’t think so.

5. Vegan Banana Oatmeal Pancakes 

Ok, so this last one is a recipe, but it’s a recipe that I tried for the first time this past weekend, and it was DELICIOUS so I’m going to use this post as an excuse to share it with all of you.

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The original recipe is from Colourful Palate. I found it on Pinterest but you can find the full recipe here.

I followed her recipe exactly, but subbed unsweetened vanilla almond milk for the soy milk since that’s what I had in the fridge. I also took the liberty of adding chocolate chips to a couple of lucky pancakes, which turned out to be the best idea I’ve had … maybe ever!

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why yes, i did have a jack johnson song stuck in my head the whole time i was making these. thanks for asking!

The recipe says it makes about a dozen pancakes, but mine made 8 (which was enough to feed two people and ensure that I had two left to eat as snacks – perfect!). I ate two topped with bananas and a drizzle of maple syrup, and one topped with peanut butter and the rest of the banana (yeah, I kind of like bananas), both options were so so good!

These weren’t the fluffiest pancakes I’ve ever had – they were a little thinner and a little bit more dense than your typical buttermilk pancake (which happens to be just the way Sean likes them so he LOVED these), but they were so good, and healthy too (the nutritional stats are also included with the original recipe)!

Okay, I think that I’m done rambling about food for now, but you can bet I’ll be back with more to ramble about very soon! In fact, I just picked up a couple of foodie items today that I’m excited to try and report back on, so be sure to stay seated on the edges of your seats until then!

Have you found a new food lately that you LOVE? What is it?

a rockin’ wednesday night

Hey friends!

How’s everyone’s week going so far?

As the title of this post implies, mine has been pretty rockin’ so far … literally (yes, I know that was lame).

My friend Jess and I went rock climbing at Coyote Rock Gym in Ottawa last night!

we rock!

we rock!

I was super excited, since this was my first time rock climbing … unless you count the time that I beat my brother to the top of the rock wall at Canada’s Wonderland when I was 10, but I think this is different.

After signing a waiver, one of the friendly guys at the gym showed us the ropes (again, lame pun intended). He helped us get our harnesses on, and taught us how to tie the proper knots in our ropes to keep us safe and sound. This was the part of the night where we learned that knot tying is not one of my skills … to say the least. Jess on the other hand, is a knot tying pro!

He then taught us how to safely belay one another, and stood with us for a couple of climbs to make sure we were doing things right. From then on, we were on our own!

Coyote Rock Gym has belaying walls for different skill levels, from a smaller wall with rocks shaped like turtles and happy faces, to higher more advanced walls.

this one wasn't made up of farm animals and happy faces ...

this one wasn’t made up of farm animals and happy faces …

on top of the world ... or the wall.

on top of the world … or the wall.

They also have walls for bouldering – which is climbing without a harness or a belayer. These walls are obviously a lot shorter – closer to the ground in case of falls!

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Jess and I tried a little bit of everything – belaying, bouldering, and attempting to climb walls that we by no means could climb.

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don’t be intimidated by her muscles, she’s actually very nice.

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just hangin’ around

We were there for a few hours and it was A LOT of fun, and a way better workout than I expected, I might add! By the end of the night my entire body was jell-o, and my foam roller came in handy this morning to say the least!

I definitely want to go back to Coyote soon … and I’ll have to bring Jess along so that I have someone to tie my knots!

Have you ever been rock climbing? Did you love it or hate it?

the weekender

Hi guys!

How is everybody? How was your weekend?

I know, I know, I’m about three days too late right? Well, I’m sorry, but I’ve been catching up on sleep and vegetable consumption since MY weekend. Oh yes, it was a good one, and, even though it’s already Wednesday, I’m going to tell you all about it!

You know those weekends that you look forward to all year long, and as soon as they’re over you’re counting the days until the next one? For me, those weekends are usually birthday weekends … my birthday, my best friends’ birthdays, my dog’s birthday. You get the picture, I love birthdays.

Well, this weekend I hosted … you guessed it … a birthday party for one of my best friends!

Meet Tara:

ain't she a beauty?

ain’t she a beauty?

Tara’s 24th birthday is actually this coming weekend, but she’s up and leaving me for ENGLAND in a few days, so we bumped up the party and made it a joint happy birthday/bon voyage.

she's already got the accent down pat ... she'll fit right in!

she’s already got the accent down pat … she’ll fit right in!

I don’t even want to get started about how sad I am that this babe is leaving me. She’s been in Ottawa with me since the very beginning! We were roommates for about 4 years, and she’s always been my partner in crime (and also I like to borrow her clothes, so what?). It’s going to be a crazy adjustment to have her anywhere but here, but I am so super proud of her. She’s hopping over the pond to work at a graphic design firm in London! She’s SO talented – she even designed the header for this very blog. Impressive right?

Okay, now I’m going to move on or I’ll have to change the title of this post to something much darker and depressing.

Alrighty, so where were we? Right, Tara’s birthday shenanigans! We actually started Saturday off with a girl’s trip to a local spa called Le Nordik. About 12 of us girls spent a few hours relaxing in what they call their “nordic baths”, which are pretty much a series of baths, saunas, and steam rooms. Besides the challenge of keeping a group of 12 girls quiet (we got shushed in both official languages quite a few times), it was an awesome day!

we looked a little bit like this, except it was very snowy, and our towels were frozen solid.

we looked a little bit like this, except it was very snowy, and our towels were frozen solid.

(source)

After the baths, we all headed home and struggled to fight the urge to nap (am I the only one to which the term “power nap” doesn’t apply? I prefer the term “coffee and baileys”), and got all gussied up for the partay!

I should probably mention that another reason this weekend made me so giddy was because we had two special out of town visitors (not that my in town visitors aren’t special …).

This is Amanda:

she's pleased to meet ya!

she’s pleased to meet ya!

Amanda was actually also my roommate for our last semester at the University of Ottawa (along with 4 other lovely ladies, one being Tara. Still following?), and then she deserted me (do you see a theme here?) to run off to teacher’s college in Toronto. I still love her though because she comes to visit.

This is Tori:

I should probably mention that I'm the other person in these photos, in case that isn't clear ...

I should probably mention that I’m the other person in these photos, in case that isn’t clear …

Tori is actually one of my oldest friends in the whole wide world. Not in the sense that she herself is very old, because she isn’t, but in the sense that I’ve known her the longest … since the 6th grade to be exact!

SO, it was so exciting to see some friends that I hadn’t seen in a long while, and to celebrate with friends that I see all the time too!

There were cupcakes!

7 mini cupcakes have less calories than 1 normal sized cupcake, yes?

7 mini cupcakes have less calories than 1 normal sized cupcake, yes?

I made these myself using my fail-proof secret recipe: 1 box cake mix + 1 can diet soda. In this case I used Diet 7up, but if your cake is chocolate you could also use Diet Coke! Seriously, if you haven’t tried this yet – do it! It saves you having to add the oil and the eggs, and its so simple and delicious! So delicious in fact, that I’m eating one right now.

proof that i'm a genius cupcake chef.

proof that i’m a genius cupcake chef.

Actually, now that I think about it, I think I got this idea from Alyssa over at Life of Blyss! Genius!

Even though for me, the cupcakes were the highlight of the night (kidding, kind of), the entire night was such a blast!

me and the lady of the hour.

me and the lady of the hour.

some lovely ladies and my couch. ps. world! meet kaylie (on the left) and emily (on the right), they're lovely!

meet my friends: Kaylie (on the left) and Emily (in the middle), they’re lovely!

some lovin'

some lovin’

i'll just throw this out there one last time .. please don't leave me!

i’ll just throw this out there one last time .. please don’t leave me!

The night ended with a slumber party (if you’re wondering where that guy I live with was during all of this, he, intelligently, found some males and escaped for the evening) and the next day was spent going out for breakfast and laughing way too hard, getting ourselves some ice cream, watching 10 consecutive episodes of New Girl (love my girl Zooey), followed by a viewing of Pitch Perfect (so funny!).

super kid for amanda, cookie dough for moi.

super kid for amanda, cookie dough for moi.

Definition of the perfect Sunday? I think yes!

Since then, like I said, I’ve been catching up on sleep and exercise and vegetables (and also that one last cupcake … ) and all those other important things. I promise that I didn’t lie when I told you those things were priorities for me, but sometimes birthdays, slumber parties and cupcakes are even more important, agreed?

Whew! That was a long one! If you can remember how your weekend was spent (I know 3 days is a stretch!), tell me all about it!

my life lately

My second blog post already? look at me go!

Since we’re friends now, and the official introductions are out of the way, I thought that today might be a good day to tell you all about my life lately.

Let me just let the elephant in the room out of the bag … is that how the expression goes? I think the cat might be the one in the bag. Either way, what I’m trying to say is this: I’m currently unemployed.

sorry-used-vague-apology-ecard-someecards

(source)

For the last month or so I’ve been out of work. This isn’t some sort of big dramatic deal, I wasn’t fired or anything … my contract was up at my last job (my very FIRST post-university) and it was time to move on. SO, since then, I’ve been working on finding another and I happen to be rather excited to see whats in store, but, as can be expected, it’s taking me a little while to find myself a new gig.

Why, you ask, am I telling you all about this when this is only our second date? When I’m still supposed to be trying my darndest to impress you?

Well, because it’s a big reason why I started this blog!

Like I said in my first post, I’ve wanted to start a blog for quite some time now, but having all this extra free time on my hands really gave me the extra push I needed to get this thing started! I can talk and talk about how truthfully excited I am to see what job I’ll be doing next, but trust me when I say that excitement does not take away from the fact that being unemployed can get rather BORING.

You’ll learn, as this relationship progresses that I’m a girl that strives on STRUCTURE. I like to have a plan and a routine and right now, I’m obviously lacking all of the above.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have the extra time to do some of the things that I couldn’t do before (like hitting the gym outside of peak hours?), but I decided in the first week or two or being home alone (during a canadian winter i might add – don’t get me started about feeling stir crazy!) that I needed a hobby. So here it is folks!

look ma! I'm at the gym taking pictures of myself because no one's around to think that's weird!

look ma! I’m at the gym taking pictures of myself because no one’s around to think that’s weird!

what's that? you don't want to get out of bed and go out there? yeah, me either.

what’s that? you don’t want to get out of bed and go out there? yeah, me either.

I might also mention that being home (and bored, did I say that already?) has also lead me to on certain occasions thinking that eating an entire box of Triscuits is the ultimate cure to boredom … it isn’t. I’m hoping that this blog will help with that tiny issue as well, in keeping me accountable to all of the world (yes, I know that I’m exaggerating a tad about my “reach” here).

boredom busters? nope. delicious? heck yes.

boredom busters? nope.
delicious? heck yes.

(source)

I solemnly swear to confess to anyone reading if I ever eat an entire box of Triscuits ever again. Or an entire box of anything for that matter.

Can you even wait?

Ok, the bottom line here is that I’m stupidly excited to get started with this whole blogging thang, and I’m grateful that I now have the time to get it started. Bring on the trial and error (I’ve got the time)!

Is anybody out there? If you are … leave me some tips!

pleased to meet you!

They say first impressions are everything. I guess I better not blow it!

I thought for my very first blog post, it would be fitting to teach you all a little bit about the “blogger” (I think its fair I keep using quotation marks until I get the hang of this – yes?).

Ready? Here are some fun facts about yours truly:

  • It took me over a year to finally start this blog. When I started to talk about other bloggers like they were my friends, and ending most sentences with “I could totally blog about this”, people started insisting.
reason enough to blog?

reason enough to blog?

(source)

  • I have a lot of favorite blogs. They’re all my favorites for different reasons, and they all inspired me to start this one.
  • I don’t eat red meat. There’s no political reason for this, I just don’t like it.
  • I eat a lot of chicken. A lot a lot of chicken.
  • I don’t eat tomatoes, or anything “tomato-esque” except ketchup. This is due to the inhumane way our tomatoes are treated … just kidding, I just don’t like tomatoes.
  • I must sound like the pickiest eater. I kind of am, but I’m much better than I used to be. I went through a phase as a child where I only ate canned mushrooms. I’d like to think I’ve come a long way.

picky eater

(source)

  • My favorite workouts are circuits and intervals. Quick and sweaty for the win!

workout

  • My favorite food is french fries. But that’s OK because my second and third favorites are fruits and vegetables.
although i usually prefer my vegetables minus the sticker

although i usually prefer my vegetables minus the sticker

  • I live with a boy. He’s kind of great though.

me and sean

  • I used to live with a lot of girls. They’re all kind of great though.

girls

  • I have two younger brothers, and two parents (hi mom and dad!), they’re all also kind of great.
my whole fam-damily

my whole fam-damily

  • I’m constantly trying to soak up as much information as I can about fitness, nutrition and health in general. So help me! and I’ll help you. Yes, let’s help each other!

Well, I think that’s enough about me for today. It’s only our first date after all. Gotta keep the mystery alive😉

Is anybody out there? Tell me a fun fact about you!