Sunday, March 31, 2013

March 2013

March is over. Another month of the year is gone in a blink.
Which is one month closer to our trip!

I've been pretty quiet on the blog front this month, and with the lack of book reviews, I imagine it will remain the same for a while. Now that I'm getting back into baking, expect some more gluten-free recipes!
March was a great month. I spent more time focusing on Frenchie, our trip to France and studying. A much needed shift.

Highlights of the Month
Frenchie celebrated his birthday
Dad celebrated his birthday
Niece celebrated her birthday
Finished my first Natural Nutrition course!
(exam submitted, waiting for the marks)
Not a highlight: One of my piano students quit :(
Spent this month focusing on Frenchie and Remembering Love for The Happiness Project

Book Recap
2013 Reading Challenge
I have read 9 books toward my goal of 30 books.
I am 2 books (5%) ahead of schedule.
Pages Read (month): 872
Pages Read (year): 3784

What I Read

What I'm Currently Reading
(I'm halfway through my giant textbook!)

Monthly Book Spending:
Spent: $0.00
Saved: $21.17


Saturday, March 30, 2013

9/30: Artemis Fowl (#1) by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, #1)Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Read from March 28 to 30, 2013
Format: Ebook

My book club was in need of a quick, easy read to kick start spring. Artemis Fowl was a good choice.

Cute story but I'm still not sure who the bad/good guys were.
I liked how both the human world and the faerie world had their own set of problems with each other and within them selves.
Artemis was not a character I liked. He was arragont, annoying and full of himself. It strikes me as the same as most geniuses written in books. Is that how they are always written? For being a middle-grade book, I don't think I would recommend this one as a book to teach any sort of value to a child. It did provide a good amount of entertainment, however.

I won't continue the series but it was a good quick read.

View all my reviews


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Check check check! Getting closer

France is coming in another couple months and I'm getting more and more excited (if that's even possible)
We have booked our flights, booked all our accommodations and have since booked several tours. There are a few biggies left, but for the most part I feel pretty good about where we are with the planning.

Things to book:
Wine Tour - Bordeaux
Train Passes
Eiffel Tower lift tickets
Versaille passport
Hot-air Balloon Ride - Loire Valley (waiting for confirmation)

Things to buy:
zoom camera lens
lightweight dinner jacket for Frenchie
GPS app for phone
European SIM card for phone
plug in converter
hidden money pouch

What is already booked:
Direct Flights - Air Transat
Accommodations - Caen, Vouvray, Bordeaux, Carcassonne, Marseille, Paris
Car Rental - Peugot 208
Le Crazy Horse - Paris Cabaret
Calanques Boat Tour - Marseille

What we've bought:
Packing cubes - saves space and separates dirty clothes from clean
Extra memory cards for camera
Camera backpack
Travel tripod (gift for Christmas)


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Where are all the book reviews?

I miss reading!

To clarify, I miss reading fiction and zipping through books in a week. Where did all my book reviews go? I haven't stopped reading, I'm just reading different books that are taking a LONG time to get through.

In February, I signed up for a Holistic Nutritionist diploma through the Canada School of Natural Nutrition. I was able to sign up for the Introduction courses and decide from there if I want to continue through the program. (I am completely in love with this course and will be signing up for the rest as soon as I'm done the first two courses) Why in the world would I have taken on this journey? Because I wanted to. Because I have had a huge health change based on diet changes and the more I talk to people, the more anecdotes I hear of the same success. I love helping people, and I'm passionate about food. I cook breakfast and dinners every day. I hate overly processed food and LOVE the farmer's market year round. Epicure was my first look into nutrition and how to make meals healthier, and it's just going to continue.

This diploma also fits with our life plans. It's a goal to work towards that will allow me, in the far off future, to stay home with our children (God-willing) and still have an income. I plan to teach piano from my home and be a nutritionist. It will be a slow business to build, but one I can do for a long time. I can work from home, or from an office, such as a chiropractor, massage therapist, etc. There are a lot of options and it's out of the IT world, which I believe will make me very happy.

I just finished course number 1, and I am loving every minute of it. Between piano, day job and studying, reading non-school books is taking a backseat. I've been reading my GIANT textbook for the past 2 months, and it's awesome. Frenchie laughs at me every time I start a sentence or text with "Did you know..." and then proceed to tell him some nutritional information he probably didn't want to know. He is my guinea pig for the next 2 years.

The best part about telling people I'm doing this diploma? They typically look at me with a thoughtful expression and say "Yes, I can see you doing that and being really good at it" Having the support of my family, friends and people who just met me is a huge boost.

I set my goal for reading this year at 40 books. Then I modified it to 30 once I signed up for these courses. Reading is reading, and the monster of a text I'm chugging through WILL count as a book sometime this year. I am attempting to read one to two non-school books a month which seems to be all I can manage. I think once summer break hits and my piano students are done for a while, I'll be able to devour some more fiction. Until then, I miss writing reviews!

You can see the books in store for me on my Goodreads shelves.
Recommended Reading


Monday, March 25, 2013

March Happiness Project - Week 3

Frenchie's Birthday is today! (Happy Birthday love of my life!)
He opened my gift to him on the weekend: bike pedals, shoes and a base layer for cycling.
This morning he got Taylor (boxer) to purr so that made his morning.

This weekend we tried a new restaurant, Sugo Cafe Italia. It was delicious. You could really tell that the people who worked there felt like a family. The owner was walking around, the atmosphere was great and the service was outstanding. I also got 1000 on my Open Table account; win/win

Last weekend, Frenchie got to pick the movie. He's been wanting to see Silver Linings Playbook for a while and it happened to be in one theatre still. I was thoroughly impressed with the movie. I can see why Jennifer Lawrence won the Oscar for her role. They didn't sugarcoat anything. The great part was that on the ride home, Frenchie and I had a great conversation about mental illness, the stigmas and how sometimes people just need a little help.

We spent the weekend relaxing which was a nice change from being busy all the time. I think he's caught on to the Husband Project again but is keeping it quiet. He loves the extra attention.

I have 4 things left on my list in order to spoil Frenchie this week.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Streusel-topped Apple Muffins (Gluten-free)

I finally got around to going to the store and buying all the ingredients I would need to start baking my own breads and muffins. I'm tired of paying $6 a loaf and it's nearly impossible to find gluten-free baked goods downtown Calgary for a quick snack.

I've tried converting a few of my favourite recipes by using a gluten-free flour mix but they are typically crumbly. I think if I start adding Xanthan gum to those recipes it would work out really great.

I picked up The Gluten-free Gourmet Bakes Bread by Bette Hagman at random only because it had a recipe for French Bread. (I really miss French Toast on the weekends, yet I haven't made it yet)

This book is a good one for people who like to bake. There are recipes for bread, muffins, bagels (yes you read that right), and more. They are fairly simple, requiring a few key gluten-free staples you should probably have in your pantry.

Streusel-topped Apple Muffins
from The Gluten-free Gourmet Bakes Breads

Preheat oven to 375°
Grease muffin tin
Topping 12 - 15 muffins
Sugar 1/4 Cup
Chopped Walnuts 1/4 Cup
(Epicure) Apple Pie Spice 1/2 teaspoon
Butter or margarine 1 tablespoons
Four Flour Bean Mix 1/4 Cup
Xanthan Gum 1 teaspoon
Baking powder 2 teaspoons
Baking Soda 2 teaspoons
Salt 1 teapsoon
Sugar 1/2 Cup
(Epicure) Apple Pie Spice 1 1/2 teaspoons
Eggs 2
Sour Cream (or non-dairy substitute) 1/2 Cup
Butter or Margarine, melted 4 tablespoons
Peeled, Cored and grated Apple 1 1/2 cups (2 medium)
Chopped Walnuts 1/2 cup

Blend sugar, walnuts, spice and butter in a small bowl. Set aside

In a mixing bowl, whist together the flour mix, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and spice. Set aside
In a smaller bowl, blend eggs, sour cream and melted butter. Mix in the apple.
Stir into the flour mixture. Add the nuts and spoon into the prepared muffin cups.
Sprinkle on the topping.
Bake about 20-22 minutes.
Serve warm or cold.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

International Happiness Day

According to the internet, today is International Happiness Day. (I swear there is a day for everything)

I think it was strategically planned to fall on the first day of Spring (March 20). If you're an Albertan or anywhere in the Canadian prairies, you know that spring doesn't actually come for another month or so. There are periods of beautiful spring-like weather, followed by a winter storm until after May long weekend.

In light of Happiness Day what are you happy about?

  • France is less than 3 months away
  • My husband is extremely supportive
  • I've made a tough decision and I'm happy with it
  • I'm living each day one at a time in terms of mental health
  • My dogs are the cutest cuddle bugs some days
  • I have amazing friends outside and inside of work


Monday, March 18, 2013

March Happiness Project: Week 2

I feel like this month is a sort of break from the Happiness Project. The first month was all about organizing and had very tangible results. This month is all about feeling and emotion. That suits me fine, it's just harder to see if the results are there or not. It's not really a break as much as a shift of focus. How will I know I'm successful? I won't really, but the effort to make my husband happier by doing little things that won't get me a  gold star is worth it.

The Husband Project

There is nothing better than doing something unexpected and seeing happiness from it. One of the jobs I hate is picking up after Taylor & Beta in the backyard. We never go out there in the winter so it's typically forgotten, especially when it snows and everything is covered up. Frenchie did a big sigh and said "I guess I better to pick up." I told him I already did it and he was so happy! Something small, but a huge result.

Frenchie is the breakfast chef on the weekends. It's just sort of our thing. I don't always thank him outside of the "wow that was delicious" etc. I made sure last week he knew just how much I love that he makes breakfast on the weekends and how much I look forward to it.

I also made him chicken satay last week. He was really excited to see it on our menu board as it's one of his favourites. 

Stop word-vomiting

I went to counselling last week and it made a slight difference. I think it will definitely help me say all my issues and problems to someone objective rather than close to home. I believe Frenchie was relieved that my appointment went well and that there is someone else who can assist me. He doesn't have a big issue hearing about my stress triggers and all that, it does get taxing after a while.

Quit Nagging/He'll do it his way

Just the usual avoidance of re-packing the dishwasher. (Yes I'm THAT wife)
Not much on this one this week.

Focus on his Love Language

A shoulder massage while watching TV makes a big difference for him. He doesn't go for massage regularily like I do, so every little bit helps. I read a quote from one of my textbooks that states:
"International hug experts advise a minimum of 4 hugs daily is needed to prevent Vitamin L(love) deficiency, 6 hugs a day for maintenance and 10 hugs a day for growth". 1
I told Frenchie this fact and he immediately came over and hugged me. Then proceeded to count hugs the next day to make sure we both got our quota.
(If you want more reasons for hugs out this article at MindBodyGreen)

1. Staying Healthy with Nutrition, rev: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine by Elson M. Haas, Buck Levin


Thursday, March 14, 2013

8/30: City of Ashes (MI #2) by Cassandra Clare

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments, #2)City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Read from February 21 to March 14, 2013
Format: Ebook

From Goodreads: Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go -- especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil -- and also her father.

To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings -- and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father

I started this one immediately after finishing the first. This series is one that sucks you into a new world and you don't want to come back to reality. The newly added characters added more depth and insight to the favourites from City of Bones. Cassandra Clare wrote The Inquisitor in this book to infuriate you, put you in a rage and yell at this book. If you read Harry Potter, remember Delores Umbridge? She was a character that I truly hated, and knew it was because of how well she was written. (I can't emphasize how much I hated her, even my husband remembers her name and he's never read the books) Cassandra Clare made me feel that way about The Inquisitor, but on a smaller scale. I was seething every time I saw her name, but she was still a thorn in my side.

Valentine... why are you so evil?! I like you even though I'm not supposed to. (Could it be because I know Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays him in the movie? yum!)

Jace is still arrogant, frustrating and kick ass. Clary is less whiny than most female characters which is refreshing. She has some kick butt powers that I hope she develops more in the books to come. I can't wait for her and Jace to discover what else they can do and what makes them both "special". But they really need to stop and just be brother and sister. It's weird.

Magnus is awesome. He's got to be one of my favourite characters just based on sass alone. If you've watched an episode of Banshee, Job  (Hoon Lee) would be my choice for Magnus. He has sass!!

I'm also loving Luke. He seems like such a great "father" the Clary and genuinely cares about her and her friends. He gives her the space she needs a teenager, but at the same time will always be there for her.

Simon, poor Simon. I was annoyed with him in the first book and really starting to like him now. He's the best friend, the guy that wants more, gets it and then realizes what they had as best friends is better. I love that! I had a friend like that and being besties was by far greater than anything else.

I'm excited for the next instalment! Queued up and ready on my eReader already.

View all my reviews


Friday, March 8, 2013

March Happiness Project: Week 1

First week Check in for March!

The Husband Project
I've done a few of the tasks that I set out for myself and had to reschedule others. Our first week of March was incredibly busy and for whatever reason, we haven't seen each other as much as we usually do.
This project really pulls together the other resolutions I made for myself so it's a 2 for 1 sort of deal.

  • We went for a bike ride this weekend which was something he's been itching to do. It was cold, but I did have fun and I know that he enjoyed the time together. The next day it snowed a huge amount and hasn't melted yet, so at least we got to go once. Didn't realize how out of shape I was regarding cycling.
  • Stop word-vomiting: On the bus ride home, most days I spew everything that happened during the day, good and bad. I gave him the bus ride home a couple times in silence (partly selfish since I was feeling really low myself) and didn't word-vomit how awful my day had been. Whatever I did say, I tried to keep positive.
  • I was able to Focus on his Love Language, Touch, and gave him a shoulder massage while we watched TV last week. 

Quit Nagging/He'll do it his way
This one is hard to measure for myself. I can tell when I'm nagging A LOT but it's hard to tell when it's just here and there. I think I did better, but I believe that is partly due to my utter exhaustion this week and lack of care for anything house related.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

February 2013

Highlights of the Month

Turned another year older.
Registered for a 5K run in May.
Fell in love with a new exercise - Barre.
Began a journey in Natural Nutrition.
Started my Happiness Project
Celebrated at the wedding reception for the newest couple in the family.
Cousin, Me, Frenchie
Book Recap
I have read 7 books toward my goal of 30 books.
I am 3 book (8%) ahead of schedule.
Pages Read: 1540
Because of my nutrition journey, I've bought a few fair sized textbooks and recommended reading books. As I finish them I will count them towards my reading goal and cost.

What I Read

What I'm Currently Reading
Monthly Book Spending:
Spent: $0.00
Saved: $38.57