Our local sushi restaurant is MC Sushi. It's been around for two years now, which makes me really happy because you never know what will make it in Midland, ON. (Before my time there was a Pizza Hut in town that closed. Pizza Hut. How did Pizza Hut not make it?)

After the Tall Ships last weekend, Betony and I picked up some super-deal Bento Boxes and got ourselves a whole lotta food. The Silver Bento Box was only $9.50, plus there is a 10% discount if you pick it up yourself. Super deal and super filling.

Silver Bento Box includes: vegetable tempura, deep fried tofu, chicken teriyaki, 6 pieces California roll, steamed rice, and miso soup.


Posted by Jen B On Friday, August 30, 2013 6 comments
I sometimes suffer from recipe perfectionism: the desire for the recipe to turn out perfectly the first time, regardless of my familiarity with it. We all want our cakes, cupcakes, fudge, and other treats to taste great, and if you're blogging about it, or taking them to a dinner party, there is an added pressure for them to look great too. I'm starting to re-frame how I see my baking, so instead of seeing a recipe as the 'perfect' finished product, I'm trying to appreciate that most times baking is an experiment, and sometimes shit doesn't work out. I know part of my perfectionism is that I spent money on ingredients and I don't want to waste them, but I'm trying to see that money as an investment in bettering my baking skills. Plus even when baking goes horribly wrong, it still tends to taste pretty good. Someone in this house will eat it!

Earlier this summer I made some Canada Day cupcakes. They tasted great and actually looked pretty great in photos (I took this one when they were cold; they looked so much better cold), but the red icing was a pain to make and work with.

I had never made a dark icing before, and my Google searching led me to believe it was going to be hard. Knowing it would be hard helped me be less disappointed when I ran into trouble. My previous experience working with gel colours had all been easy, simply adding a tiny amount usually did the trick. Red was a whole other thing.

In my red icing research, I came across two tips that were really helpful. First, I bought no taste Red, as many baking forums suggested I would use a lot of the gel colour (possibly the whole jar) and using regular red would make the icing taste gross. The other tip I followed was to leave the icing overnight in the fridge so the red colour could darken.

While making the icing, things started to go awry, and I realized there were some tips I missed. The red colour separated while I was mixing it, giving it a white speckled look. I later learned that dark colours have a tendency to do that, and can be avoided by keeping your icing thick. Not only was my icing thin and separating, but it was also soft (it looked like it wouldn't ice properly), and I learned that on particularly humid days (which it was) adding shortening instead of butter helps to avoid this. You also don't want to beat it too much (I definitely beat it too much!). But now I know for next time.

It didn't photograph clearly, but there are lines of white separating from red
It looked better after darkening in the fridge
I also learned about baking photography and how room temperture icing doesn't look as good as refrigerated icing. I did a whole photo shoot with room temp, and then did it all over again because it just looked so much better cold.


Do you ever expect yourself to do things perfectly the first time? How does it work out? I'm trying to remember to focus on the journey and not worry so much about the outcome.

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, August 29, 2013 6 comments
The Tall Ships 1812 Tour docked in Midland, ON last weekend and Betony and I spent a rainy Sunday afternoon walking around and checking them out. Pictured is the STV Unicorn, which I learned from their website is "the only all-female crewed tall ship in the world". How cool is that? The ship is partnered with a New Jersey not-for-profit called Sisters Under Sail that is "dedicated to helping teen girls and women build confidence, develop leadership skills, and witness first-hand what women can do together when focused on a common goal." So it turns out I photographed the coolest tall ship ever.


Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, August 28, 2013 2 comments
I went on a pretty amazing bike ride on Friday, my longest of the season at 18.5km (11.5 miles) and almost two hours. It felt great and reminded me how much fun it is to be out on my bike. I also got to take in some views of farm country which are beautiful this time of year.

When I set out on Friday, I had the idea that I might be bike riding to doughnuts. Earlier this summer I learned there was a coffee shop within biking distance, and I thought it would be neat to ride home with some doughnuts on my back (I would definitely have earned them). Headed that way, when it came time to turn off the trail, I just didn't feel like getting doughnuts. I was so pumped up from covering so much distance on my bike, that doughnuts were the last thing I wanted. I kept on riding along the trail and I felt healthy and happy and all those other positive feelings that come from exercise.


But don't worry - I haven't lost my taste for doughnuts. There was a Beaver Tails truck in downtown Midland on the weekend and I didn't let it leave town before I got one.



Here are some photos from my lovely two hour bike ride from Friday night:

Riding the trail

Trees with the sun peeking through

Round Bales



Corn field

Art shot of my bike

Shadow me loves to be on the blog!

Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, August 27, 2013 5 comments
I have completed the first week of my 28 day reboot and things are going really well. I have successfully added activity to my daily life and I've been reminded that I find both walking and biking really fun.

Over the past week I walked 37,321 steps. I'm gradually working towards 70,000 steps per week, so I am very happy to be halfway there already. I also biked 27.2km (17 miles) over the week, and all this activity and sunshine is making me really happy too. :) 

My walking goals are also having a positive impact on my behaviour. On the weekend I was laying in the backyard reading, and at the end of each chapter I got up and walked around the house for about 5 minutes (about 500 steps). I'm really starting to be conscious of being more active and I love adding little pockets of walking to my day.

I am tracking my walking using a pedometer and it has become a great little motivator for me. I have daily step goals and it is a great gauge of how much more activity I need to do before the day is done. One of the most important things about wearing a pedometer is remembering to put the damn thing on. I often forget to attach it to my belt right when I wake up and when I get out of the shower. Too many times this week I found myself puttering around the house for a few hours before I realized I wasn't wearing it.

Over the past week I also realized that my pedometer makes a jingling sound. Jingling means it's working. No jingling means steps aren't being counted. A frustrating fact I discovered after a nice long walk around the grocery store, making sure to hit every aisle, to get my steps up. It turns out the pedometer needs to be strait up and down to work, so the waistbands of certain pants are too thin to keep it oriented properly. I've figured that out, but now I'm that person at the grocery store who keeps looking at her waist to make sure the pedometer is working.

The thing I am trying to remember is that regardless of whether my pedometer is counting as it should be, I am indeed walking more. That's what really counts (groan!), right?

Posted by Jen B On Monday, August 26, 2013 12 comments
We used to buy boxed hamburgers, but we realized we get more bang for our buck (and our taste buds) if we make them ourselves. We either use ground turkey or ground beef, as they both make an equally amazing burger. 1lb of either meat usually makes 6 burgers, with each patty being about 3 oz. I make homemade buns to go with them, and I love the smell of hamburgers frying and buns baking at the same time. Smells like joy.

John is the patty maker in our house, so all credit for these yummy bugers goes to him.

First, break up the meat into a large bowl. Add some chopped onions.

Next add spices: garlic powder, chives, pepper, and Montreal steak spice.

Add some bread crumbs.

Mix with your hands to get to proper burger patty consistency.

Press into six patties.

Fry in pan, flipping once, until juices run clear.

Cook some burger toppings if so inclined. We fried up some onions and mushrooms.

Dress burger to taste and enjoy! I added feta to mine and it was burger bliss.

Posted by Jen B On Sunday, August 25, 2013 4 comments
2013 has been a big year around here for the blog.

I changed my template in March, joined some social networks (Google+ and Twitter), and started blogging more often.

I set myself some blogging goals and blogged more times in one month than I ever had previously (June: 30 times). I also successfully cleaned out my drafts folder (I deleted, posted, or archived over 20 posts). I reached my 300th blog post too.  It has been a very active year on the blog and I couldn't be happier.

I hit another milestone yesterday, by reaching my 113th post of the year. Not normally a significant number, but in this case, 113 posts is the most I've ever blogged in one year. Until now, of course.


Not since 2010 have I posted this often, and with this current post I'm surpassing my 2010 stat. With my 114th post, 2013 is now the record holder of the most blogging I've ever done in one year. The best part is that there is more to come. YAY! Thanks for being awesome, 2013!

Also, thank you for being part of such a fantastic year so far. :)


Posted by Jen B On Saturday, August 24, 2013 4 comments
The person I most often go out for lunch with is my Mom. We have lunched at many different places over the years, but we have our trusted favourites. Mom's favourite is Chinese food and my favourite is sushi. We found a place in Barrie where we can both get what we want: Jun's Roll. On this day, Mom got a breaded shrimp combination plate, and I got Sushi Combo No. 5: spicy crab roll (8 pieces), spicy salmon roll (6 pieces), with a spring roll on the side. The spicy salmon rolls had thick pieces of avocado in them that were so fresh and tasted amazing. This was my third visit to Jun's and I will definitely be back.

Jun's is in downtown Barrie, so when picking up lunch I got to fail at parallel parking twice, drove really far away from the restaurant, turned around, drove back, and then (thankfully) found a pull in space across the street. In my head I can parallel park. In real life, not so much. 


Posted by Jen B On Friday, August 23, 2013 6 comments
We went to the beach with friends recently and I was reminded that there are so many new kids toys available now.

I'm sure every generation at some point thinks "we never had that as kids" and I found myself thinking that as the kids played with these mud pie accessories.

Back in the 80s, my childhood mud pies were made using pebbles, sticks, and leaves, and I was forced to use my imagination to see the mud pie beauty. What do you think about these mud pies of the future? They added some nice colour to the beach and the kids had fun playing with them. Maybe I'm just jealous, but it makes me wonder if there is a level of creativity that gets lost with a pre-made set like this. What do you think? Does it matter if a mud pie is decorated with pebbles or plastic roses? I know one thing for sure, I got some adorable photos. :)

Icing the cake...with mud
Blow out the candles!

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, August 22, 2013 5 comments
We just got home from a fun beach tour. The beach we like had no parking, so we checked out another beach heading toward Wasaga. The water was pretty rocky so not perfect for swimming, but it still looked beautiful and relaxing. On our way home there was parking at our beach, so we got a nice swim in. We are having a mini-heat wave up here, so spending time in the water was wonderfully refreshing.


Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, August 21, 2013 2 comments
I am loving my 28 day reboot, and I got so excited about feeling good, that I kinda overdid it.

The weather has been fantastic so I've not only been exceeding my walking goals, but have been
swimming daily too. It left me with boundless energy and I had a really hard time winding down Monday night...so I hardly slept and my body didn't recover from the newly added exercise. It left me completely wiped. All day yesterday, even keeping my eyes open to read was exhausting. Yep, I overdid it. Going from minimal activity to ALL the activity was a little too much for me. I was smart enough to listen to my body and let it rest. Feeling recovered today and I'm ready to get back out there and get moving.
This was how sleepy I was yesterday.
Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, August 21, 2013 3 comments
I have some daily step-count walking goals I'm trying to meet, so getting in some fun walks in the sunshine is a great way to do that. I have a few walking options around my place, the rail trail, the Simcoe County forest trails, or I can even just walk along the side of the road. While walking this summer, I started using a walking stick that John had, and it just sorta felt right. I also think it kinda makes me look cool and outdoorsy, especially when I'm on the trail. We nicknamed the stick my "wizard staff" and I'm glad it's accompanying me on my adventures.

Walking stick (wizard staff) and me
Art shot of the walking stick  -  with my happy shadow. :)

Posted by Jen B On Monday, August 19, 2013 6 comments
My 28 day reboot started today and I am feeling great about it!

It's all about adding daily, planned, physical activity to my life with an emphasis on walking. We had some beautiful weather this weekend and it was a nice push to get outside and do some activities. I did a 8.7km pre-reboot bike ride yesterday, and today I not only exceeded my walking goal but also got in an hour of swimming at the beach. Having a lot of fun and I'm already feeling a boost in my energy level.

I even got excited about doing household chores earlier today, as I saw mowing the lawn and vacuuming as a way to get my step count up (a wonderful practical bonus!).

The weather looks great this week and I'm super excited to get out there and be active.

I hope you had a great weekend whatever you were up to! :)

Posted by Jen B On Sunday, August 18, 2013 2 comments
If you are ever in Midland, Ontario, be sure to pop into Ciboulette et Cie for a sandwich. I had always heard about their sandwiches but hadn't tried one until last week and I'm so glad I did.

Now if I was better at this foodie thing, I would have remembered to write down what I got on my sandwich, but I'm pretty sure this is close to accurate: sliced chicken, avocado, field greens, smoked cheese, olive tapenade, and mayo on a white ciabatta bun. The combination of flavours tasted amazing and avocado on a sandwich is simply one of the best things ever. Sandwiches are served with a side of kettle cooked chips which made for a very delicious lunch.


Posted by Jen B On Friday, August 16, 2013 2 comments
I am once again inspired by Ivy over at The Happy Whisk who has been on a 28 reboot to feel better. Earlier this summer she also set herself a blogging challenge, which also encouraged me to do the same. So thank you Whisk for being such a good example (and an awesome Blogger buddy). The thing I'm realizing is that small, concrete goals are the way to go if I want to make something new stick. My brain likes to tell me (and I like to believe) that I can have a vague idea of what I want and just wing it. Only it doesn't work. I've learned that saying: "I'm going to blog more" doesn't actually lead to me blogging more, but saying (and planning): "I'm going to blog every day this month" is specific and short enough for me to accomplish.

So I am gearing up to start a reboot to feel better too. I've been on some lovely walks and bike rides this summer but not as many as I thought I would. My walks or bike rides are usually spontaneous and that spontaneity doesn't happen as often as I think. My thought that "I'm going to walk more this summer" hasn't really panned out because I never actually planned to do it.

So I dug this guy out of hiding and I am making a plan to walk.


When I lived in the city I walked everywhere - no distance was too far.  I wish I had my pedometer back then, because I am sure that I often did over 15,000 steps/day.  I've calculated that a 45 minute walk for me is about 5000 steps, and in Toronto I would actually walk for hours. I was super active but never even thought about it as exercise. I just loved to walk around and see stuff.

In the country I am far less active. Since I turned thirty, I've started to notice changes in my waistline based on that inactivity. They have "the talk" with kids about body changes at puberty, and I think they should have a second talk with the post-thirty crowd about how our bodies change too. My talk would have been a simple statement of fact: "You can no longer eat garbage, avoid activity, and magically stay at your current weight." Past me had it so great and she didn't even know it!

So I'm going to schedule activity (same time each day) and some activity goals (# of steps) so I actually have a goal I can accomplish. The magic number of walking seems to be 10,000 steps per day and according to the Sportline guidebook that came with my pedometer, getting to 10,000 steps should be done gradually based on your current steps per day. They suggested recording your step count for three days and then averaging it to find your "start point". Over the past three days I did just that.

Day 1: 4643 steps          Day 2: 4417 steps          Day 3: 7137 steps

Average/start point: 5400 steps

As someone whose start point is between 5001-7500, steps should be increased by 400/day in order to reach 10,000 gradually. The pedometer has a goal feature, so each day I am setting the goal to be 400 more steps than the day before. Here is my plan:

Day 01:           5800 steps
Day 02:           6200 steps
Day 03:           6600 steps
Day 04:          7000 steps
Day 05:           7400 steps
Day 06:           7800 steps
Day 07:            8200 steps
Day 08:            8600 steps
Day 09:            9000 steps
Day 10:            9400 steps
Day 11:            9800 steps
Day 12:          10200 steps

So in 12 days I should be up to 10,000 steps/day. Hopefully the gradual increase makes it easier for me to maintain. I don't have a treadmill so I'll often be relying on good weather, but I know from my outdoor challenge that even on the rainiest days there are pockets of time when the rain is light enough to get a walk in.

Here we go! :)

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, August 15, 2013 8 comments
Commander Chris Hadfield shared this photo on Twitter recently. There is something about people walking around in space with Earth below that just blows my mind. I made this photo my desktop and the bright blue brings me a lot of joy when I turn on my computer.

If you want to lose a few days looking though NASA photos, check out and search the NASA gallery (where this photo is from). NASA photos are generally copyright free, check out their guidelines for photo use for more information.


Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, August 14, 2013 No comments








Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, August 13, 2013 8 comments
Years ago an email forward was going around telling everyone about Mug Cake. The forward included photos and the claim that it really worked and was so easy. I'm pretty skeptical when it comes to information found in a forwarded email, so I never tried it.

Years passed and it was somehow 2013 and I still had never experienced the joy of mug cake. While I was being ignorant, so many other people were figuring it out and perfecting it. A 'mug cake' Google search will show you countless round ups of all the different mug cake options available to you, and Dr. Oetker even has a mug cake mix you can buy. So mug cake is a real thing and I may be late to the party, but it is a quick party to get into.

My favourite Mug Cake at the moment is a coffee cake which I slightly adapted from a Crazy for Crust recipe.

First step is having a really awesome mug. I suppose you could use any mug, but if you had a mug with your cat on it doing yoga, you'd probably pick that one, right?


Mixing in a bowl, add 1.5 tbs sugar, 1.5 tbs flour, pinch of salt, and 1/4 tsp baking powder.


Mix dry ingredients together. Next add 1 tbs milk, 1 tbs plain applesauce, and a splash of vanilla.


Mix well. You now have mug cake batter.


Spray your mug with cooking spray and add the cake batter.


Sprinkle 1 tbs of brown sugar and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon on top.


Microwave for 1 minute.


Eat and enjoy. And try not to eat one everyday (it will be difficult!).


Posted by Jen B On Sunday, August 11, 2013 2 comments
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