In just a few short hours Mom, Bro-in-law, and I will be checking out the new Star Trek movie! A continued Mother's Day treat for Mom, who is really excited to see it. She texted me last night to say she was watching the first one to get ready.

We are going to see it in 2D, as none of us are really swayed by the allure of 3D. I'm pretty sure it is going to be great either way. I'm super excited for Benedict Cumberbatch as I absolutely love him in BBC's Sherlock.

Are you planning on seeing Star Trek Into Darkness? Do you like 2D or 3D?

After the movie we are heading to Applebees for early bird specials! So excited!

Happy Friday everyone!

Posted by Jen B On Friday, May 17, 2013 7 comments
This is the 42nd blog post I've published this year. The Douglas Adams significance of that number aside, this is a milestone for me because I only published 41 posts last year. I didn't set out to write more posts this year, I've just been feeling good and have been really excited about blogging. My returned drive is now showing in the numbers and I'm very happy about that!

Also, as with yesterday's post, I am still very obsessed with space. Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield returned to Earth last night and I spent the entire day talking, thinking, and tweeting about it. I watched webcasts via NASAtv and the CSA, I obsessively checked Twitter feeds (mainly CSA, NASA, and Chris and Evan Hadfield's), and I spent much of the day reading and learning about how we return people to Earth from the International Space Station. It was a very exciting day!

Periodically John would try to talk to me about other things and even though I thought I was answering appropriately, my response was always something like: "So basically they have to go 12km from the Space Station before they can start the deorbit burn." I was very focused!

And I'm still talking about it today. Still marveling at the wonder of going in and out of space. Forever in awe of those who dedicate their lives to exploring what is out there. And very happy that we can get astronauts safely back to the planet.

If you missed it and are interested, this CSA video sums up how the crew returned to Earth.

Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, May 14, 2013 6 comments
Like many amazed fans on Earth, I am pretty obsessed with Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield. He has spent the past five months on the International Space Station, tweeting us photos of our hometowns, answering our questions about space and how things work up there, and being an all around nice, interesting, funny, insightful, inspiring, and amazing dude. There probably hasn't been a day in the last few months where I haven't talked about him to someone, or retweeted one of his tweets, or learned something new about space from a video he's posted. If we ever need an ambassador for all of Earth, we would be smart to select Commander Hadfield for the task. He is already the coolest guy in space!

For Commander Hadfield's last full day on the ISS he covered David Bowie's Space space! I can't think of a cooler way to say goodbye to the International Space Station and to all of his fans here on Earth. I have already watched it at least ten times, and will probably have it on repeat for the next few days. IT IS A MUSIC VIDEO THAT WAS FILMED IN SPACE! The lyrics have space references! It is beyond cool!

Commander Hadfield is coming home tonight and they are broadcasting it live on NASAtv starting at 3:30pm. I will be watching. Get home safely Commander Hadfield!!

This video is awesome! Enjoy!!

Posted by Jen B On Monday, May 13, 2013 4 comments

Wait, those aren't roses! Those are dishcloths! My mom absolutely loves knitted dishcloths and luckily I just made a whole bunch of them. Just in time for Mother's Day! She was very happy! :)

Happy Mother's Day everyone! I hope you are having a great day!

Posted by Jen B On Sunday, May 12, 2013 4 comments
We went on a lovely walk through the woods earlier this evening and I actually remembered to bring my camera!

A favourite hiking trail

White Trillium - The official flower of Ontario
I have been absolutely loving the beautiful weather lately. Hope you have been enjoying the sunshine too!

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, May 09, 2013 4 comments
There was sale on Handicrafter Cotton yarn recently and I planned on picking some up so I could knit some dishcloths. The only problem was, I already had a tonne of the stuff in my yarn stash, and I haven't been knitting much lately. So I made myself a deal: use up all the yarn in my stockpile and I could buy more. It was a pretty motivating deal, as I have since knit ten dishcloths! I guess I really hate missing out on a yarn sale!

I only have about five more to knit before I get to replenish my stock. I hope there is a sale, as I am excited to pick up some fun new colours!

I love having a pile of these around!

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, May 08, 2013 4 comments
I bought an excessive amount of air freshener this morning! I say excessive because I bought 15 cans! FIFTEEN!! My house doesn't smell that bad, but I had a coupon and there was a store sale, so we got a super deal on a product we normally use anyway. I love getting a deal on practical items.

So here was the coupon deal: Buy $15 worth of Glade products, get $10 off. 

Normally the air freshener sells for $1.29, but this week there was a sale and it was on for $1.00!

So 15 cans = $15 = $10 off.  Awesome.

So before the sale and with tax, 15 cans cost: $1.29 x15 x1.13 = $21.87

And with the sale, with the coupon, and with tax, 15 cans cost: ($1.00 x15) -$10 =$5 x1.13= $5.65

Each can cost only $0.38. DEAL!

Now that is a lot of air freshener!! :)

Posted by Jen B On Monday, May 06, 2013 9 comments
I had planned on making peanut butter fudge for gaming night tonight, but the recipe called for Reese Peanut Butter Cups (16 of them!) and the econmy pack I usually buy was all sold out. Instead of buying the higher priced Reese Cups, I decided to put the fudge recipe on hold and look to the internet for suggestions of something else to make.

I had some Oreos on hand, so I asked the internet what to make with them. I don't usually go to Pinterest, but my Google search led me to a Pinterest page filled with photos of Oreo Cookie recipes. So I began surfing and clicking and ended up at The Picky Palate, finding a recipe for "Gooey Cookies and Cream Double Chocolate Cake Bars". Sounded good to me.

The recipe called for a devil's food cake mix, which I didn't have on hand, but decided to use the sprinkle cake mix I did have as a substitute.

The recipe and photos over at the The Picky Palate are great, so if you are thinking about making these, head over there for the original instructions. These are layered bars, and the layers are super easy to prepare.

Bottom Layer: Cake mix, mixed with 1/2 cup butter and 1 egg, 
spread evenly in a 9x13 pan.

Layer Two: Broken up Oreo Cookies (I used 20 cookies).

Layer Three: A can of sweetened condensed milk.

Top Layer: Chocolate chips!

It bakes on 350 for about 30 minutes and comes out of the oven looking like this
 (I think it looks like a dessert pizza!):

These bars are really sweet and really gooey as their name suggests. The sprinkle cake worked, but they probably would have been better made with the devils food cake. This version is still pretty good, but these bars are really super sweet. I could only eat one!

Posted by Jen B On Sunday, May 05, 2013 10 comments

My favourite book from 2012 was The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling.

I know I like a book when I can't sleep. I either stay up way too late reading page after page, or I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about a part of the story. With this book I did both of those things.

The plot surrounds a small town council, an empty council seat, and all those involved in vying for power. The plot initially reminded me of Game of Thrones, but instead of seeking the Iron Throne, these characters are fighting to be elected to local government. Not all the characters are likeable, and there are a lot of bad things happen, but I couldn't put the book down.

I think this book works because Rowling is such an excellent storyteller. Each page made me want to know more about these people and made me anxious for what could happen to them. She even made me care about characters I didn't like, which I find amazing.  There are some heavy themes in the book, including domestic violence, child abuse, drug addition, mental health issues, poverty, and classism, but these themes didn't make it any less enjoyable to read. Rowling writes in such a way that despite the tragic elements, I was still enthralled by the story and desperate to know how it would play out.

The Casual Vacancy had the potential to be a complete disaster, and I'm filled with "Team Rowling" pride that it wasn't. Writing anything after of the success of Harry Potter had to be a gamble, especially in a different genre, and the pressure for it to be 'good' had to be great. Not everyone liked the book, but I really enjoyed it and I applaud Rowling for having the guts to go for it and try something new. It find that very inspiring.

This book review was part of the Author Appreciation Day Blog Hop, happening over at Book Reviews by Sus.

Posted by Jen B On Friday, May 03, 2013 8 comments

Book Reviews with Sus is hosting an Author Appreciation Blog Hop tomorrow.

The goal of the blog hop is to promote doing book reviews and rating books for authors.
I have been reading a lot of books lately and even joined Goodreads in January to encourage myself to read more. I am pretty good at rating a book when I finish it (you just have to click which star you like!), but I haven't actually reviewed a book yet. So tomorrow's blog hop is going to challenge me to do just that! Do you have a book you feel like rating or reviewing? 

If you are up for reviewing/rating a book tomorrow, hop over to Book Reviews by Sus and join up so everyone can read your review! 

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, May 02, 2013 4 comments
Only a week and a half ago it was below zero, and yesterday it got up to 26. A quick change that gave me a headache at first, but now that The Weather Network is showing consistent temperatures, I am feeling good and happy! It looks like it is going to be a beautiful weekend!

With such a beautiful day yesterday, I spent most of it outside reading a book. The sun was hot and there was a lovely cool breeze. It was just perfect. It was also just perfect for getting my first sunburn of the year. I will be more cautious when I am out there today. Shade and sunscreen!

Here are some of the signs of spring I found in the backyard:

Some Dandelions were out!
The Narcissus are well on their way.
Also saw this Robin - a sure sign of spring!

Hope the weather is amazing where you are!

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, May 02, 2013 4 comments
After three successful months of meal planning and eating at home for most meals, we fell off the wagon in April. But don't worry, we didn't fall too hard.

At the start of April we failed to make a written meal plan. Basically we thought we were meal planning pros who could just wing it. And actually, we mostly did. We have gotten into the habit of having food on hand and we (mostly) had enough ingredients for the meals we like to eat. The problem came with making meals that involved day-before planning (thawing and cubing meat, making sure we bought eggs, etc.). We didn't plan for certain meals so certain meals were skipped. It turns out we eat a lot of shake and bake chicken if we don't plan for variety. 

Also, despite having food at home, we were feeling super lazy in April. I think the way winter just
dragged on really affected our motivation. We also learned about the King Deals menu at Burger King, which only encouraged our laziness. They have a daily combo deal for only $5.30. Super deal! I happened upon it accidentally early in April and we ended up going four times in one week! We are silly like that.

April wasn't entirely without planning, as we decided to add home made sushi to the weekly schedule. It is one of my favourite meals, but I normally leave it for special occasions because I tend to make ALL the sushi. It takes me hours and I have to purchase and assemble numerous ingredients. I always make too much and eat too much, but I'm always soooo pleased with myself. John suggested I make smaller, human sized portions for us to eat. What a fantastic idea! I have made it twice since he suggested it and I couldn't be happier to be eating it weekly. I only make spicy California rolls (no hand rolls or smoked salmon rolls), but it is still extremely satisfying.

Now that April is over and the sun is back, we have written down our meal plan and are getting back on track. I've also expanded the meal plan to include a daily walk. Thankfully the weather has cooperated and I'm getting my walks in. Speaking of which, it is about time I get myself outside.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, May 01, 2013 No comments
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