Wednesday, 19 September 2018

School Lunches

I hate making school lunches. HATE.  I cannot really emphasize that enough.  I have one kid who is celiac disease and has to be 100% gluten free and another kid who hates anything gluten related except for macaroni and pop tarts.  One kid who will only eat carrots in her lunch and one kid who rotates between peppers, broccoli and cucumbers. So I decided to make the kids write out all things that they would be happy about having in their lunch once school started. 

They sat in this spot for a long time and didn't come up with a whole lot of options but here they are, keeping in mind that they have to have a fruit, vegetable, yogurt tube, cheese string and a fun snack along with their suggestions, nachos + salsa, garlic sausage + crackers, pasta, jam sandwiches, grilled cheese, left overs, salad with peppercorn ranch dressing, muffins, rolled up ham or turkey slices.  The majority of those are Penelope's suggestions.  FInley is much more difficult despite having no dietary restrictions.  

To make things easier, on Sundays after I pick up my groceries, I cut up all of our produce and I put them in snack cups from Tupperware so that they are already to go each morning for the girls.  Blue and yellow are penelopes and pinks, oranges and purples are Finley's.  I love these containers from Tupperware so much!!

We are now 2 weeks into the school year and lunch making is already a frustrating process.  What are some things that you send your kids to lunch with??  We could use all of the ideas we can get for these 2 kids of ours!

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Local Eats: Two Penny Chinese

A few weeks ago, I met Greg downtown for lunch since I had to pick up my race package for the Dino Dash.  I texted him and told him I was on my way to pick him up and that he needed to choose a place to eat by the time I got to his office.  He had 3 suggestions and I picked Two Penny because I had heard great things about it and I was excited to try it. 

It's a fair size restaurant, beautifully decorated and very spacious.  It wasn't very busy when we were there but I am guessing it wouldn't get too loud in there when it was.  It is located right next door to Ten Foot Henry (another favorite) on 1st street se.  

We started with steamed bbq buns which I was both excited and sad about.  Excited because I had never tried them before and they sounded like they should be good.  But sad because when they arrived they reminded me of the Disney short film that was shown before the start of The Incredibles 2.  If you have no idea what i am talking about, you can read about it HERE.  It feels so sad to me.  But I got over that and ate one of the dumplings and they were sooooooooo good.  How have i missed out on these all of my life??  Greg said he would buy me the steamer if I learned how to make these but I don't see that happening ever haha. 

Greg and I both ordered the lunch bowls where you chose rice noodles or rice, a protein and then they added some vegetables.  i chose the rice with crispy pork and I was disappointed it with my meal overall.  It was sooooooo bland.  Nothing on the race, a little flavor on what I think was bokchoy and the crispy pork belly had a faint lemongrass flavor to it but nothing to write home about.  I would never ever order this meal again. 

Greg ordered the rice noodles with the duck on the bone and his came with a delicious rich broth and even a suace on the side.  It was so much better than mine.  I used some of his sauce to make mine a little more better.  He loved his and he tried mine and didn't love it. 

Despite my disappointing meal, I would love to come back in the evening and try some more dishes.  Their vegetable section looks amazing.  And I want to try the shrimp and lobster dumplings too.  Just never plain rice and pork belly again.  The service was really good and both the server and the waitress were really friendly too.  You can make reservations on opentable and while it is not needed for lunches, I hear it is really recommended for supper time hours.  Go check it out!

Monday, 17 September 2018

Local Eats: Brasserie Kensington

A few weeks ago we headed down to Kensington to have dinner at Brasserie Kensington to celebrate my 39th birthday.  I had been here once before for dinner with my friend Terra and I was excited to be back again. 

I started my evening off with a beverage called Gun Smoke.  It wasn't good and I should have known that by the ingredients in the drink but i was intrigued by the smoked sea salt so I ordered it anyway.  I hope to not do that again. 

Brasserie is designed to order a bunch of dishes and then share them.  This is our favorite way to eat because you get to try so many fabulous items.  The first one to arrive were the pecorino and white truffle fries that came with a roasted garlic aioli.  The fries were delicious (and gluten free) and we all loved them  but I didn't love the aioli sauce that came with.  I have had better for sure.

The next thing to arrive was the fried chicken skin that came with a housemade fermented jalapeno sauce.  This was Greg's pick and it was something he spotted when we were making sure there were enough options for Penelope to eat.  It tasted like dry ribs without the ribs and was just alright. 

Finley really wanted a hamburger so she got the beef brisket on a bun and it was amazing.  It was huge and delicious and Greg was definitely sad that Finley chose to eat it all and not share a whole lot with him.

Penelope got the poutine which was gluten free since they used au jus instead of duck gravy.  Brasserie is a very gluten friendly restaurant and highly recommend it if you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. 

This was not gluten free but Penelope was ok with us ordering it.  This was fried olive oil flatbread with balsamic creama and maldon sea salt.  This was truly amazing.  

Next, we had the atlantic scallops and crispy pork belly and some werid cracker that came with it.  This was just ok.  I have had better elsewhere. 

The main feature was  this steak, potatoes and broccolini.  The steak and sauce and broccolini were really good but the potatoes were terrible and that was a shared sentiment from both Greg and I.  The sauce from the steak made the potatoes only slightly bearable.  

Overall, our experience was amazing despite not all plates meeting expectations.  The service was absolutely fantastic and our server was very knowledgable with both menu and how all items could be made gluten free.  It wasn't too busy and we had a great seat near the window.  We will definitely be back again. Go check it out if you are ever in Kensington or looking for a fun place out to eat. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

What I Streamed in August

Here is what I streamed in August:

I finally finished Season 5 of OITNB and I swear to God I nearly threw my ipad out the window, I WAS SO ANGRY with it.  Then I started watching Season 6 and the first episode was so bad but then it got better.  I hate that they split them up into different prisons and blocks and I didn't love some of the new characters they added, but that being said, it was probably the best season in a long time even though I didn't like a lot of what they did.  It is really hard to explain without spoiling anything.  Next season should be interesting because there were a lot of changes at the end of this season.  All 6 seasons are currently streaming on Netflix.

I love all things Amy Schumer but this movie was not great.  I mean it did have its moments but overall, just not great.  And I wanted to love it so badly but I couldn't, It is currently streaming on Shaw Free Range or for free on Shaw On Demand.  

I watched the new Mamma Mia movie in the theatre in July and I think it was better then this one and if you go see it, take kleenex.  you can thank me later haha.  I downloaded this to my ipad and the girls and I watched it over two nights while we were camping outside Kelowna.  With no campfires, it got a little boring so we watched it.  The girls loved it and I did too but strangely, the sequel is better!!  This is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video. 

I, Tonya was made available to stream last month and I finally got around to watching it and it was so good.  Margot Robbie is ridiculous in it.  Allison Janney got all the good publicity for it but Margot killed it.  I did google Tonya Harding after I watched it because I was curious to see what she was up to now.  I don't know much about this movie but I believe she was a part of the scritpt so  it is based on her version of events and not Jeff's version (I THINK), I could google it but I don't feel like it haha.  I often wonder how much she knew about what was going to happen to Nancy Kerrigan but I don't think anyone will know for sure since it is everybody's word against everybody.  This is currently streaming on Netflix Canada and I highly recommend watching it, it is so good. 

I had never seen this show before although I do remember seeing commericals for some of it.  I watched the first season and most of the second season while Greg and the girls were gone backpacking.  It was nice to bring my ipad with me as I cleaned every square inch of my house haha. I cried a lot watching this not because it was sad but because it made me really homesick and miss my family a lot.  I like most of the characters although so far Sara + Kristina have been my most consistent least favorite characters.  By the end of August, I was 9 episodes into season 3.  It is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime Video

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

What I Read in August

I read a bunch of books this month and I book number five of August was book number 24 of 2018 which was my goal for the year!!  I am so excited that I reached this goal, I missed it by a few last year. 

1.  Minimalism - The Minimalists - I think I enjoyed the book more than I enjoyed the documentary by them that I watched last year (still streaming on Netflix I believe).  It is about eliminating all the extras so you can focus more on living a meaningful life.  It is not a long book and is a quick read but it left me with a lot of ideas and got me emptying 3 rubbermaid containers in my basement so that is a positive haha. 

2.  The Perfect Mother - This was the book club read for July but I didn't get it in time so I read it this month instead.  It was a weird book and it felt like 2 different books within one.  The ending shocked the shit out of me and made me rethink everything that I just read.  Apparently they are also making it into a movie too.  This I will have to see!

3.  Girl, Wash Your Face - Rachel Hollis - I cannot even tell you how much this book has changed my life.  I think I might write a blog post just on this book alone or maybe do a chapter each week or something.  It is amazing and if you haven't read it yet, you should really get on it. 

4.  New Minimalism - Cary Telander Fortin + Kyle Louise Quilici - This book was a hybrid between minimalism and lagom.  Some of the chapters were really interesting and some were pretty boring.  I struggle between being to minimal and having some character so I (think) I gained a lot from it. 

5.  A Simplified Life - Emily Ley - Again, the first 2 chapters were fantastic and I learned a lot but I kinda tuned out for the rest of the book.  

6.  Joyous Detox - Joy McCarthy - she is one of my favorite people to follow on twitter and i love that she is Canadian too.  I don't think I would have do a detox but she made some interesting points and I do have some new recipes to try out too. 

Monday, 10 September 2018

Race Recap: Dino Dash 2018

On Saturday, I ran my 5th race of the season when I did the Dino Dash.  The Dino Dash is the kick off to the fall racing series by Run Calgary and it was the 15th running of the event but my first (and definitely not last) time running it.  The majority of the race volunteers are current U of C Dino's who are on the track and field team as this is a fundraiser for the club.  Some of the volunteers were incredibly enthusiastic and one saved me from a car who was trying very hard to ignore traffic signs and kill me as I was exiting the campus. 

There were a few dinosaur costumes out and roaming around the event before the start and I grabbed a photo of this one while Heather and I were walking to the start line becuase I am almost positive that this dinosaur did the Lululemon Edmonton 10k too!!

The stroller division started first (the true elite runners in my eyes haha) and then the 5k and 10k started 5 minutes later at 11am.  I have no idea why the race started so late but I definitely wish that it was an earlier start time.  My favorite thing about this race was running somewhere brand new.  Never before had I run in any of these areas before and some parts I don't think I had even driven through or on before so that was cool.  I am very grateful though that there were a few runners that I could see who knew what they were doing when we hit the U of C campus otherwise I am not sure I would have made it out or gone where we were supposed to be going.  I think another volunteer coarse marshall in there would have been nice.  Hopefully I remember for next year!  There is a fire station that was cheering you on as you passed back on your way to the finish line, since it isn't a big race, there was no fan fare on the streets cheering you on so that was really nice.  It was a weird race where you went from feeling so hot to freezing because the wind was so intense.  My face was so hot that I felt like I was running a half marathon instead of a 10k haha.

You enter into the Foothills Athletic Park and then you have to run around the track into the dino's mouth and then you cross the finish line officially.  The track was the hardest part of the race by far.  I was so hot and tired and twice I had to swallow vomit which has never ever happened before.  Thankfully I felt much better once I finished and had a chance to get some water and cool down.

The wind got so bad that the inflatable dino collapsed barely missing a runner who was finishing so it sadly had to come down.  The wind was so intense!

I finished the race on Saturday one minute slower than my Edmonton 10k in July.  My legs were definitely still tired from the 23k that I ran last Saturday so hopefully I can go into Vancouver well rested. I don't think I will have any runs longer than 10k going forward to the race.  My achilles bothered me a little bit and I thought my hips might bother me because they have been so tight since I switched runners but they were pretty good too.  This was my first race wearing my Brooks Ghost 11's and honestly I love these shoes.  Thanks Heather for taking this photo for me even though I know you weren't feeling very well after finishing your race!

This was by far the most favorite of both my kids and probably Greg too.  It is kinda cool to have a dinosaur medal hanging on my medal rack right now hahaha. 

Friday, 7 September 2018

August Prime

I was struggling to find some blog posts to write about when I thought about  my friend + fellow blogger Christy's monthly posts on her amazon prime purchases.  I love reading her prime posts because she always has something clever that I want or need to try haha. If you don't have amazon prime then you are missing out becuase it is fabulous.  My favorite is when I order on a Sunday afternoon and it shows up on Monday afternoon - of a long weekend!!!!  The worst part is when the distribution centers near Calgary don't have what I need and then I have to wait like 3 days.  First world problems right???  Also included with your Amazon Prime Membership is Amazon Video and Music.  You just can't stop winning with prime hahaha. 

Anyways, here is what I primed in August:

After months and months of research, I finally made the very difficult decision to switch running shoes.  I purchased a pair of Brooks Ghost 11's at the Running Room but I wasn't in love with the colour. It has since grown on me but I searched for my shoe on Amazon and found the Ghost 9's in a pretty colour and for a significantly cheaper price.  I ordered them thinking they may not fit since they were regular width and the ones from the running room were a wider fit since I need all the room in my shoes.  They were coming from Ontario so  I had to wait 3 or 4 days for them to arrive and when I opened them up, I prayed to the shoe gods that they fit me becuase they were even prettier in person.  The did fit although a half size bigger would have been perfect but I ended up returning them because the 9's had a piece of plastic over the big toe that drove me insane the mere instant that I tried them on so I knew they wouldn't work for me.  The great thing about Amazon is that they have a great return program and all I had to do was initiate the return process on the app and they sent an email to me that I printed out and put back on the box and then dropped off at the post office to have them shipped back all for free!!!!

Technically, I pre-ordered this back in December and it arrived to our house on August 16th while we were on vacation in Kelowna. I LOVED the first book and am already happy with this one.  I also LOVE LOVE Shalane Flanagan too haha.  When you pre-order on Amazon as soon as it goes live on their site, you pay full price but as the price drops throughout the months leading up to the release, you pay the price as of shipment not purchase. When I pre-ordered Magnolia cookbook, it was $40 but I ended up paying like $22 for it.  I saw it for cheaper somewhere else and wanted to make sure I was also getting the cheaper price and I was!

Large compostbags are hard to find in Calgary.  Superstore and Walmart never ever have any in their brand or in the Glad brand so I have to order them every 2 months off of Amazon.  You are probably wondering why anybody needs compost bags that large, I mean they don't fit in the compost bin and your kitchen would probably not smell so great with all that compost sitting there.  Well my friends, I use the large compost bags for emptying our litter box every Tuesday.  Litter is compostable but the small compost bags that fit in the compost bin don't hold the litter (trust me on this, it will save you a lot of clean up) so I use the larger bags.  Both stores used to carry them but now they don't.  But it is all good because I can buy them on Prime!

This is the only cereal that Penelope will eat.  I know, I know, who feeds thier kid chocoalte for breakfast but when your child has celiac disease and most cereal is overpriced that tastes like the box it comes in, you give in when you find one that she likes.  She doesn't love it but she likes it. We tried the cinnamon one but she didn't like it at all.  The reason I buy this on Amazon is because it is $2.48 a box.  The same size box at Walmart and Superstore is $4.48 I believe.  This is an add on item only meaning I can only purchase it when I meet the qualifying amount but that is usually pretty easy to do. 

I used to use another brand of laundry detergent that I ordered online but I couldn't find it when we ran out earlier this year.  Penelope has super sensitive skin so using traditional store stuff won't work for us.  I found this at winners one day and bought some to try it out and she had no reaction to it at all so I am sticking with it.  Unforunately I haven't found at winners since then but thankfully Prime had it for only a few dollars more. 

Kara Goucher is an olympic runner who's first book I just got out of the library and really wanted this one but they didn't have it so I bought it and I got it the very next day.  That makes me so happy hahha.  I haven't read it yet but hopefully soon I can sit down and get it read!

What were your favorite prime purchases this month or recently??

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

First Day Of School

Yesterday marked the first day back to school for these two.  Finley was so excited to go back and see her friends and find out whose class she was in.  Penelope on the otherhand, was excited to show off her new haircut to her friends but had this great idea that Greg should quit his job and we both home school her. This was never going to happen haha.  We had a fantastic summer but it was time to get back to our routine and structure.  I crave on routine and so do both kids - especially Penelope.  She struggles during the summer where her behaviour gets worse and worse throughout the summer.  We barely survived the long weekend and I am not even exaggerating.  

Both kids wearing some of their new school clothes.  Finley had to get all new jeans because she grew so much over the summer.  The same thing happened this year.  They got their pullovers from Justice 2 weeks ago and they both had been dying to wear them.  

Finley started Grade 4 and she loves school.  All the subjects except art she loves. She still wants to be an astronaut while still having a side business of designing and making her own clothes.  She loves converse runners, black boots, jeans, and wearing a denim button up over her t-shirts.  

Penelope is going into Grade 3 and loves all subjects except for science.  She wants to build robots when she gets older which kinda baffles me since she hates science but I think she just says that to irritate her sister.  She loves the colour blue, all things kitties, sparkly shoes and is finally agreeing to wearing jeans!!  

Both kids were sitting on the step at 7:50am this morning and every 2 minutes Penelope would come in asking when we were going to leave. And to think she didn't want to go to school haha.  We normally leave at 8:10 but we left a few minutes early so we could figure things out once we got to school. Neither kid was happy that I made them wear a sweater over top of their other sweater but trust me, it was cold out. 

Our school has a program where we can pay them to purchase our school supplies and I fully support this.  I have no interest in buying my own haha.  We do have to supply the pencil boxes which they are reusing from last year, indoor shoes, and kleenex.  Penelope got a new backpack because her zipper broke last week when we were putting her pencil box in it and Finley is using the same one she has been using for years because she loves it and has said that it won't be replaced until it falls apart. 

We arrived at the school to find a hot hot mess.  I thought last year was a bit of a disaster but that was smooth sailing compared to this year.  The bell normally rings at 8:20 and I think Finley finally went into the school with her class at 8:50.  They quit notifying us of their teacher last year when we got a new principal but had grades and class lists on the school exterior.  This year there was nothing and it stayed that way for far too long.  Eventually teachers came out with clipboards and we had to figure out which teachers taught which grade. Finally someone came out and taped grade numbers to the wall and students finally made their way to that section if they hadn't found their teacher already.  Some teachers were calling out student names that they had and some just gave up and taped their list to the wall.  I have friends who attend other CCSD schools and everybody does something different claiming it to be CCSD policy.  I am curious to know what the CCSD policy actually is for the first day of school or if they even have one but after what happened today, I think there definitely should be. 

We found Penelope's teacher first and she was sad to see that most of her friends were in the other grade 3 class but was happy when a few other of her friends showed up too.  I never worry about her being in a class where she knows nobody because she makes friends wherever she goes.  When we were at Calaway Park on Friday, she made friends with all the kids she waited in line with.  One boy she knew the year he was born and the month hahah.  She was a happy kid when I picked her up from school and seems to think her teacher will be a good one. 

Finley has 5 other girls that were inseperable last year.  One moved to Haysboro and her best friend moved to Mahogany.  At first Finley thought she was all alone but it turns out she is with one her friends and the other two girls are in the other 2 grade 4 classes.  I was worried all day because Finley doesn't make friends the way Penelope does but when I picked her up I asked her how school was and she said good and I asked if she was happy and she started rambling about how much she enjoyed it and how she met up with her other 2 friends at recess and lunch and all was right with the world.  What a huge relief - you have no idea. 

Hopefully day 2 goes as well as day 1.  

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Calaway Park

On Friday, we went to Calaway Park for the first time in 7 years.  Last time we went, it was just before or just after Penelope's first birthday haha.  She obviously had no memory of it and I don't think Finley really did either.  There is no reason why we never went, we just never made time for it. Needless to say, the girls were very excited for it. 

The first ride we hit up when we got there was the Voltex or whatever the rollercoaster was called. We had to wait 4 rides before we finally got on.  I am glad we went when we first got there because the line up was well over an hour as the day dragged on.  So for that reason alone, we only rode this ride once despite it being a favorite. 

There was one ride that Penelope couldn't ride so while Finley and I were on that ride, she + Greg rode this one.  It was as lame as it looks and Greg said when they got off the ride, the girl asked if she had fun and she replied no hahaha. 

This was the ride that Finley and I went on that Penelope couldn't go on.  To begin, it lays flat and you get into the carts.  Then the carts start to move and the wheel starts to raise and keeps going until it is straight up - if that makes sense.  I was already feeling sick when I got on it and so it couldn't end soon enough but Finley loved it hahah. 

Greg convinced me to go on the rocking boat and I really shouldn't have hahah.  And I really wanted to get off of the ride when it broke and the bars wouldn't raise so we were stuck on it until maintenance came and was able to finally get us out of there. 

Only Greg wanted to go on this ride and somehow he convinced us all to go on it.  However, he was too tall for the ride in the end and had to get off of it while the three of us had to stay on.  It was brutal and pretty much destroyed me for the rest of the day.  I love rides but I am more partial to roller coasters and not rides that just go around and around and are very spinny which is basically all of the rides at Calaway Park. I kept my head down and eyes down and barely survived.

For lunch, we went to Timber Falls Pizza Co because it was the only place that had any gluten free lunch options.  Penelope got a gluten free cheese pizza which she didn't really like.  Greg, Finley and I each had one massive slice of pizza.  Greg and Finley had hawaiian and I had pepperoni. I don't really like pizza but it was so good.  The sauce was good, the crust was amazing - I just would have liked to have more than 2 pieces of pepperoni.  

After lunch, we finally went on Timber Falls or as I call it, the log ride.  That's what I called it as a kid and that is what I will continue to call it haha.  They redid the ride a year or two ago and one of the signs says that it was closed down in 1990.  That seems far too recent for that to be a real thing haha.  It wasn't overly warm and so it was so cold when you were on this ride and the wind is fierce when you are wet haha.  We ended up riding this ride 3x before going home. 

Finley and Penelope loved this ride.  We rode it once as a family and then the girls rode it 2 more times on their own.  They were so excited to ride rides alone and they covered a lot more than Greg and I did. 

We ended up spending more than 7 hours at Calaway Park and as much as I enjoyed our day there, I was so happy when we got into the car and headed home.  I was exhauasted!   I don't see us every getting season passes for the park, but I do see us making more of an effort to come at least once per year and not waiting another 7 years to visit.