Well the month of June has come and (almost) gone. I set two main goals: blog all 30 days in June (achieved!), and spend at least 30 minutes outdoors daily (mostly achieved!).

Daily Blogging
At the start of the month I mapped out thirty potential blog posts (in pencil) and did my best to write and publish them in advance. I wrote probably 70% of posts from my original brainstorm, but some posts got moved around, some ideas got pushed to July, and some spontaneous posts were written. I made sure I had a post scheduled every day (usually writing it the day before). For this last week of blogging I am proud to say that at one point I had 5 blogs sheduled to be posted. I spent all day last Sunday writing. Wouldn't it be wonderful if that became a habit?

One thing I noticed from posting so much is that I was constantly searching for material from my life. "I could blog about this!" was a common sentence I used over the past month. I also remembered to bring my camera with me when I left the house more often than not, which is a great habit to be developing. Ensuring I had a blog posted every day was a positive experience for me, and I am really proud of what I accomplished.

Daily Blogging Notable Achievements:
• I have now blogged more times in one month than any other month of this blog: 30 times (previous record was 21)
• During the month I celebrated my 300th blog post

Daily Outdoors Time
I managed to get outside 26 of the 30 days in June. I made a conscious effort to spend time outside, and even though I didn't get all 30, I was probably outside more in June than I have been all year. Which is awesome. The days I didn't go out involved bad weather or bad moods. I still haven't learned that going for a walk is great way to combat a bad mood. Maybe one day.

Outdoors Time By The Numbers:
• Number of days I was outside for just 30 minutes: 8
• Number of days I was outside for longer than 30 minutes: 18
• Number of days time was spent sitting and reading: 10
• Number of days time was spent sitting by a fire: 2
• Number of days time was spent around a BBQ: 2
• Number of days time was spent walking: 10
• Number of days time was spent cycling: 5
• Number of days time was spent both sitting + reading AND walking/cycling: 3
• Number of days with no outside time: 4


Posted by Jen B On Sunday, June 30, 2013 4 comments
Surfing Saturday: a weekly round up of some of my favourite links on the interwebs.

Pride Week

It's Pride Week in Toronto, so I'm celebrating with some of my favourite LGBT2Q links.

Equal Marriage

Here are some of my favourite equal marriage campaign and related videos from around the world. Have a tissue handy, some of these videos make the eyes wet.

Sinead's Hand from Ireland
It's Time from Austrailia
It's Time from Scotland
MP Maurice Williamson's 'Big Gay Rainbow' Speech, New Zealand
The Golden Girls and Marriage Equality

DOMA/Prop 8 Ruling

On Wednesday the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that DOMA (Defence of Marriage Act) and Prop 8 were unconstitutional. The plaintiffs in the case had this amazing press conference after the ruling was announced. Presidient Obama called the plaintiffs to congratulate them, Buzzfeed showed a collection of reaction photos outside the Supreme Court, and San Francisco City Hall was made rainbow to celebrateNancy Pelosi had this amazing response when asked for thoughts on Michelle Bachman's reaction to the ruling. I think I have watched that video about 50 times so far. Also George Takei wrote this opinion piece which is worth reading. There was a lot of joy on Wednesday; felt really positive and proud all day.

Pride Events

Toronto Pride is happening this weekend and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne will be the first sitting Premier to march in the parade. HuffPost has a slideshow of some of best fashions from past Toronto parades. If you are searching with Google, certain Pride related key words will turn the search bar rainbow, which is pretty awesome. Simcoe County pride week isn't until August 2nd, but if you're local you can check out Simcoe Pride for more information.

Happy Pride Everybody!!!

Posted by Jen B On Saturday, June 29, 2013 3 comments
I've decided that this summer is the Summer of Walking. It is also the summer of cycling, swimming, and being outside in general, but I recently read the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed and it reminded me how much I enjoy walking. If you haven't read it, check it out, it is very moving and inspiring. Highly recommended. 

There is a trail near my place that was converted from a railway line. This is my favourite trail for both walking and cycling, though walking requires a lot more bug spray. The trail runs parallel to the road, so it's pretty hard to get lost. Use of the trail is shared with ATVs, dirt bikes, runners, dog walkers, horseback riders, and sometimes groups of summer camp kids. I have always had safe travels on this trail, and have always found the people on motorized vehicles safe and respectful to pedestrians. It is a really positive space.

This is what part of the trail looks like heading North-ish.


And here is the view of the trail heading South-ish.


I realize they both look pretty similar. In either direction, the rail trail is a fantastic place to spend time and I plan on enjoying it as much as I can this summer.

Posted by Jen B On Friday, June 28, 2013 2 comments
Well with the help of my 30 day blogging challenge, I have made it to my 300th post! I have also posted more in one month than I ever have on this blog. Lots to be proud of right now.



Just wanted to take the time to thank all my regular readers and all those who happen to stop by. I really appreciate you and your comments. Thank you for being here.

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, June 27, 2013 6 comments
A few months ago Target opened some stores in Canada. The closest Target to us is in Orillia and it opened at the end of March. I had never been to a Target before, but I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I proposed a road trip with Mom and Grandma, and on a rainy day in April we made our way to the big city of Orillia, Ontario!

The three of us hadn't been to the Orillia Square Mall in probably 10 years. I worked in Orillia from 2000-2003, and only rarely did I go over there at lunchtime. They've made some renovations to the mall recently and we walked around before exploring Target.

First stop - lunch. The Food court was pretty limited but they had a Burger King so I treated Mom and Grandma to burgers. Surprise of the day, we were there on a Wednesday (also known as Whopper Day), so our meals were cheap and delicious. I love when I offer to buy lunch and get an unexpected deal. Everyone wins! We didn't know it at the time, but eating at Burger King was the highlight of our day.

Orillia, ON Target
Maple Leaf, Heart, Target Logo
Apparently the big draw for Canadians when cross border shopping at American Target is the amaze-a-deals. Unfortunately, these deals never made it to Canada. I'm not really a shopper in general, so it takes a lot to get me to part with my money, and Target did absolutely nothing for me. Mom and Grandma felt the same - they were both unimpressed with the store. Basically Target just has the same stuff you can get at Real Canadian Superstore or Walmart but at a slightly higher price. I can say some positive things about it: (1) it had a very clean bathroom and (2) there was a Starbucks right inside the store.

The point of heading to Orillia that day was to spend some fun social time with Mom and Grandma and I got to do just that. They are both backseat drivers but I didn't have to pull over to kick anyone out of the car, so that was good. Plus we learned that every Wednesday is Whopper Day, and I've been to my local BK six times since then to enjoy this tasty treat.

Have been to a Target Canada? What did you think?

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, June 26, 2013 10 comments
We love leftovers around here. I recently posted about our chili in a bread bowl, and not wanting to consume another half loaf of bread in one sitting, we had to change up how we ate the leftovers.

Bring on the chili fries! We baked some homemade fries, topped them with chili, cheese, and guacamole. It was a winning combination!


Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, June 25, 2013 4 comments
How's the weather where you are? We are currently involved in some sort of heat wave. It has been over 30°C for the past three days and everyone is melting. I'm all for the heat (winter was unbearably long this year), but I wouldn't be Canadian if I wasn't commenting on it. :)

To beat the heat I have been spending limited time outdoors (though still trying to get at least 30 minutes per day), and having lots of cold foods and beverages (cold salads and homemade iced tea are favourites). Another treat helping us beat the heat are homemade iced cappuccinos.

We use our Magic Bullet to make these, although we use our full blender to crush the ice first (it actually has a button called "Ice Crush"). We find the big blender crushes the ice more evenly than the Bullet, and to get it the way we like it, we don't mind the extra step.

We add crushed ice to the Magic Bullet cups.


Next we add instant coffee and brown sugar to taste (about 1 large scoop of each for me), and 3/4 cup milk (more milk if you like a thinner ice cap).


Blend in Magic Bullet until smooth. Drink with a straw and feel the relief!


Enjoy!! And feel free to check out previous posts using the Magic Bullet:
Smoothies
Scrambled Eggs

Posted by Jen B On Monday, June 24, 2013 2 comments
Dorothy over at Crazy for Crust creates some pretty amazing treats. When I first found her blog, I spent an entire afternoon clicking through the older posts so I could see all the amazing photos and recipes. It was a lot of fun and made me really hungry! Definitely check out her blog if you haven't already; it's full of great ideas.

So far I've tried making some of her easy fudge recipes. I've made two flavours so far, most recently Salted Butterscotch Fudge. I took it to a BBQ earlier this week and it was thoroughly enjoyed. The fudge was gooey and sweet and the pecans really added something special to it.

The recipe makes about 1kg of fudge (2.2 pounds!), and that is a whole lotta fudge bang for your buck. The only problem is eating a healthy amount of this stuff. It might not be possible.

For original recipe, check out Crazy for Crust.

Ingredients:
1 cup pecans
3 cups butterscotch chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Method (in photos):

Toast pecans in frying pan over low heat, stirring frequently.


Mix butterscotch chips, sweetened condensed milk, + butter in a medium pot over low heat.


Stir frequently until melted together.


Mmmmm... Melty and smooth and full of awesome.


Once melted, add vanilla and pecans. Stir until mixed.


Pour into aluminum foil lined and greased 8x8 pan. Sprinkle with salt.


Cool in the fridge (I left mine overnight and cut it into pieces the next day).


Yummy butterscotch fudge pieces.


Take it to party and wow all of your friends!


Posted by Jen B On Sunday, June 23, 2013 4 comments

Surfing Saturday: a weekly round up of some of my favourite links on the interwebs.

Geeky

Are you watching Under the Dome on Monday? It's based on Stephen King's book Under the Dome and the trailer for the show looks scary and good. io9 has a spoiler free review of the pilot episode, and I'm excited to see it. I always love it when Jeff Fahey is working.

A trailer was released this week for a big screen LEGO movie that is due in February. I'm pretty much obsessed with LEGO so I'm really looking forward to this.

Baking

Check these detailed Game of Thrones cupcakes at Sugar Swings! Serve Some. They are all super awesome, but I love the White Walker. So cool.

I added to my baking stash this week, picking up new items at Bulk Barn. I'm really into flavour extracts and colour gels right now so I picked up some Pure Orange and some assorted Wilton Gel Colours. I also noticed Bulk Barn carries Flavour Oils, and I might have to give them a try too.

Astronomy

Looks like I am getting a Space Selfie! The Kickstarter project I funded reached it's goal. The Oatmeal made a cool comic about it this week and the campaign has announced some stretch goals. Only 8 days left! Looking forward to what they accomplish!

Someone amazing sent Commander Hadfield a crochet Commander Hadfield doll. I think it is just adorable.


Posted by Jen B On Saturday, June 22, 2013 2 comments
Gary Bear likes her heat. She's never more blissed out than when she is sitting in front of the fireplace or lying in a sunbeam. She's loved all the sunny days we've had this week.



 Love this cat.

Posted by Jen B On Friday, June 21, 2013 2 comments

I love smoothies.


Sometimes for breakfast. Sometimes as an afternoon snack. Sometimes for dessert.

They are quick to prepare, promote the use of straws (win!), and are full of fruits I don't normally eat in non-smoothie form (sorry banana, I can only enjoy you blended).

The following is how my typical smoothie is prepared.
ADD:
(1) Half cup of mixed frozen berries. (2) Half cup of milk. (3) Single serving yogourt or applesauce.
(4) Small banana (cut up). (5) Put in Magic Bullet. (6) Blend. (7) Enjoy!



Posted by Jen B On Thursday, June 20, 2013 2 comments
We borrowed our friend's XBOX 360 so John could try out a few games, namely Skyrim. I am usually a Wii gamer, but watching John play Skyrim has been fun, though I'm not sure it's for me (even though he says you get to tame and ride a dragon...I could be into that). So far I've only played Rayman Origins on the XBOX, which turns out is also a Wii title. What can I say, I know what I like.

If you've been following the blog for a while, you know my favourite video games are Lego centered. Along with Lego Batman 1 and 2, Lego Harry Potter 1 and 2, and Lego Indiana Jones, I have now completed a few more.

I finally finished Lego Pirates late last year. I found it to be one of the weaker Lego games, so I finished it long after I started it. I inherently love it because it's Lego but it didn't hold my interest like the other games. Not sure if I will replay it, but happy I was able to finish it.


Also completed Lego Lord of the Rings earlier this year. It was a great game with lots of exploring and I love LOTR so there were many familiar faces. My only complaint was there was a lot of crying by Lego characters. Lord of the Rings is pretty dark, so the game was pretty dark too. Even when people are being killed with broom, banana, or chicken arrows, it's still pretty sad. Lots of Lego tears in this one.

I have yet to complete Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, but I think I will be doing that incrementally over my whole life. I still have to find most of the blue canisters (essentially replay all the levels, but timed) as well as complete most of the Super Story missions (essentially replay all the levels, but timed). So I won't be posting about it's completion any time soon.

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, June 19, 2013 2 comments
Sometimes I get a craving for something full of sugar. I would love if this craving was satisfied by a strawberry yogurt, a fruit smoothie, or any sort of healthy sweet food. Unfortunately, this craving cannot be tricked! There are just times when I need to eat a baked good and that's that (cake, cookies, doughnuts, cinnamon buns, or any other sugar filled treat).

I love to bake, but the craving often happens when I'm super tired and in absolutely no mood to do so. If my craving wins, I usually end up at the grocery store where I buy a super tasty (but expensive) store-made baked good.

That was until I discovered emergency cookies.

Browsing the Dollar Tree I noticed some quick baking mixes. Cookies, cupcakes, muffins; all for $1 each. They had simple directions and required little prep time, so I bought a few for those times when I need 'Emergency Treats'. Now if I get that unstoppable urge for sweet, I make something from a mix (which takes about the same time as a trip to the store). It's a great solution! 

Emergency Cookie Mix
Add mix, 4 tbs butter or margarine, and 2 tbs water
Mix until it is cookie dough
Place onto cookie sheet (makes about 10)
Emergency cookies!
Are these the greatest cookies I've ever had? No. But they taste pretty good and satisfy my sweet craving. The quick mixes also don't make very much (about 10 cookies), which is great for having a few cookies in the moment but not a lot of leftovers.

Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, June 18, 2013 2 comments

Friends of ours recently had a baby boy and I made a really simple card to welcome him to the world.

I found some Old West stickers in my stash and just let them do all the work.


Sometimes less really is more, and I just love how this card turned out.

Posted by Jen B On Monday, June 17, 2013 4 comments

Dad and me and the barnyard, circa 1982

Posted by Jen B On Sunday, June 16, 2013 2 comments
 
Surfing Saturday: a weekly round up of some of my favourite links on the interwebs.

Geeky + Baking

If you want to bake something Star Wars related, a good place to start is Sugar Swings! Serve Some. Click through Michelle's Star Wars posts and just spend the afternoon scrolling through all the awesome. Also check out her posts labeled geek for even more awesome things to create.

Rosanna at Nerdy Nummies showcases how to make a lot of geeky treats on her YouTube channel. Felicia Day stopped by to make these cool D20 cookies (which I need to make for our next gaming night). I'd also love to try making this Lego Cake or the Lord of the Rings shortbread.

Found these amazing D & D dice cake pops at Midtown Sweets. I bet they would be difficult to make (especially the D12 shape) but they look so freakin' cool. I also love the Hellboy cake pops and the Megaman cake pops. So fun!

Just Plain Geeky

Gillette has been promoting it's razors by using geeky/science celebrities to answer a classic question about Superman: How does he shave? I know it's advertising, but watching Bill Nye, Kevin Smith, Mayim Bialik, and the Mythbusters give their theories is kinda cool.

Remember the awesome dinosaur chasing the wedding party photo from a few weeks ago? Well now there is one with AT-ATs from Star Wars chasing people. I hope this trend continues and can't wait to see how far people go for comedy gold.

Lastly Commander Hadfield announced his retirement from the Canadian Space Agency this week. io9 has a lovely article about it. After he takes some time off, I really hope he writes a book/does a speaking tour/continues being awesome (that last one is a guarantee).

Posted by Jen B On Saturday, June 15, 2013 2 comments
Went walking on the local biking/walking/ATV trail last weekend. The trail is situated around the Wye River, so I got lots of great photos of the water that surrounds it. I would have taken more photos but there was a serious amount of flying bugs biting at me, so each photo left me with two or three bites (mosquitos/black flies/other flying jerks are suckers for my blood...see what I did there?). Next trail hike, I will douse myself with an entire can of bug spray, and maybe bring along a second can just in case. 
**Click on photos to Embiggen**

On the trail bridge looking towards to road bridge
Shadow me taking a photo from a trail bridge
A country road (view from a trail bridge)
Lone flower on the side of the trail
A view of a creek from another trail bridge
The other side of the creek

Posted by Jen B On Friday, June 14, 2013 4 comments
Yow know what’s ridiculous? Chili in a bread bowl. You know what’s even more ridiculous? Homemade chili in a bread bowl. For real.

First we made awesome chili. Do you have a favourite chili recipe? We throw multiple varieties of beans into a pot with ground beef or turkey, onion, mushrooms, pasta sauce, and spices. It is a definite hit at our house.


Next we made a bread bowl. We used a loaf from our bread machine, cut it in half lengthwise, and hollowed it out in the shape of a bowl. I think it is over the top and awesome that we did this, but please know this was John’s idea. My brain wouldn’t come up with something this awesome/ridiculous, as I usually think foolish things like: “I can’t eat half a loaf of bread.” I sometimes underestimate myself!


We toasted the bead bowl in the oven (after basting it in a garlic powder/olive oil mixture) and then we put chili in the bread bowl!

We had a crazy fun dinner and laughed at how silly we are sometimes.

Posted by Jen B On Thursday, June 13, 2013 6 comments
There are many pluses to being in the country. Easy access to nature, ample space, many beautiful places to walk, bike, and take photos. Another plus (for me) is the lack of conveniences; if I want a Tim Hortons it is at least a 12 minute drive, a 90 minute bike ride, or a 2.5 hour walk. And don’t forget it’s the same time/distance back.

Well this is no more. A Country Style doughnut shop opened a 5 minute drive away. This means I am 5 minutes away from doughnuts AT. ALL. TIMES (within store hours). Plus, that five minute drive is a bike ride I’ve done loads of times. It takes maybe half an hour. HALF. HOUR. FROM. DOUGHNUTS.

So, my new life goal: bike to doughnuts. They’ll be carried in my backpack for the ride home, so maybe I’ll avoid ones with drippy icing. And because I’ll have rode my bike there and back, I get to eat all of them! YAY!
This is the doughnut I ate doing research for this blog. You're welcome!

Posted by Jen B On Wednesday, June 12, 2013 8 comments
Leftovers are my favourite. They are great for a quick lunch or a just-reheat-it-and-it's-ready dinner. You might even find us eating them for lunch and dinner (Pesto Pasta is a good one for that). And why not? The flavours of some foods can intensify overnight, and with the simple effort of making one dinner, you get two. Or three. Or more. Love it! And if we know we can't use them within a few days, we pop them in the freezer to feed our future selves (future us loves presents from the past).

This week we were able to use our awesome taco leftovers in two different ways. Leftovers have to work in this house!
Taco salad looking pretty for the blog.
Taco leftovers made an appearance in my all time favourite leftover lunch: taco salad. I'm sure this salad has more taco shells, meat, and cheese than, say, a garden salad would, but that is why it is so awesome. It is in my top three salads for sure. This is also a great way to use up those two extra taco shells that we normally find stale a few weeks from now.

All mixed up and ready to eat!
This magic salad has green leaf lettuce, green olives, broken taco shells, taco meat, shredded cheese, and salsa for dressing. Always love adding chunks of avocado when I have them too. I love love love this salad.

We also turned the taco leftovers into a pizza topping. It was as tasty as it sounds. We often make over the top pizza, but this one was crazy delicious. And leftover bonus: I had leftover pizza for lunch the next day. LEFTOVER WIN!

Piles of toppings, starring taco meat.
Oh what the hell, let's add more cheese!
Finished pizza had all the win.

Posted by Jen B On Tuesday, June 11, 2013 5 comments
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