Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014







2014 was a great year, it really was.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I could ever top 2013 because it’s not every year that you are able to give your best friend and her family the greatest gift in the world.  But it made me realize that I needed to be me.  And although I have a lot of work to do on me in 2015, I think I did a pretty good job this year.
The highlights for me include going to Edmonton and seeing Justin Timberlake and Luke Bryan in concert.  They were amazing as expected.  I am so glad I was able to get tickets to both shows!  Thank you Luke Bryan for adding that second show in Edmonton!!!!!  We took the girls to Mexico and they had a blast!  My sister Kristy came to Seattle with us in July and it was a great trip but I am not sure she will come on a road trip with us again, hahaha.
Finley started kindergarten and is doing really well. Penelope is in school 3 mornings a week and is loving it.  I am also loving my 6 hours to myself each week.  
Perhaps my biggest accomplishment this past year was running.  I was never a runner.  Ever.  I couldn’t even run 5 minutes before my sides were pinching and my lungs were burning.  But when I was pregnant with M I decided that I was gonna run a half marathon, specifically the Lululemon SeaWheeze in 2014.
Greg and I ran this 5K in January 2014.  I did it in 34:58 which was a personal best.  I wouldn’t have done that good if not for Greg supporting me during the race.  I remember finishing and telling him that no way could I do a half marathon if I couldn’t do 5K on my own.  He said that he would register for the race and that we would do it together. 
We spend 8 long months training for this race.  I found myself running further and further without pain.  I couldn’t believe I was doing it.  Greg was a great supporter and was key in me getting out and running even on days I would rather sleep or watch tv.  I injured my knee in early July after doing a 25K hike.  Basically all of the tissue and cartilage in my knee disintegrated.  I spent a month in physio making my knee stronger and worked really hard in August leading up to the race.  Typically you taper off the closer you get to the race but because I lost a month of training I made my self run 20K 6 days before the race.  I wasn’t confident I could do it but I managed to finish the training run which really worked my confidence.
Here I am with my first half marathon in the books.  8 long months of training and running and getting in shape paid off.  My goal was under 3 hours and I finished it in 2 hours and 47 minutes.  I don’t think I have ever been more proud of myself in my entire life.
This stays with all the time.  I have  it saved on my phone and downstairs near my treadmill.  The hardest part about running is starting and then learning to run through the pain until your body is strong enough that the pain isn’t there anymore.  It takes a lot of time.  A lot.  I am not sure why this time I was able to work through it.  I never thought I would have ever run a half marathon.  I still am in shock that I did. 
6 weeks after my first half marathon, I ran my second!!  2 marathons in one year!!  Who am I???  This time I did it 7 minutes faster which was HUGE.  I still can’t believe I took that much time off my run.  
I tend to post a lot on social media about me running.  It’s not that I am bragging or anything like that but it’s a really big deal that I am doing this.  I went from no running and bootcamp to running and bootcamp and I feel great.  I have been inspired by so many of my friends and maybe I can inspire someone else to set a goal and reach it.  
I have lots of goals lined up for 2015 but you will have to check back tomorrow for those.  But in the meantime, I hope that you all had a fabulous 2014 and that an even better 2015 is on the way.
Happy New Year Friends + Family, Stay Safe!
xoxoxox

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas!!



We (I) never got around to doing Christmas cards this year and so I took some randoms in front of the tree of the girls and got these.  We lucked out and got some really good ones.  I hope you are enjoying the holidays with your families and if you are traveling, like we are, then safe travels.  
Merry Christmas!!
Love Greg, Becky, Finley and Penelope

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Finley's Christmas Concert




Finley had her first Christmas Concert at her new school this month.  She was very excited to perform for us and to wear her new dress.  This dress is adorable and we scored it last Christmas at Target for $5!!
Doesn’t her smile say it all???
We got a note in the agenda that kids had to be in the classroom by 6:10 so we assumed that’s when we had to be there and we were there at 6:06 and we still had to sit in the back row.  A friend got there at 545 and got front row.  Good to know for next year.
All photos were on my iPhone so the quality is not great.  We forgot to bring the good camera.  Another thing to remember for next year.
All 3 kindergarten classes performed together.  They sang a song as angels and then did a dance.
I shared 2 videos of each performance on Instagram/Facebook so they are there if you want to look.  It was really well done.  The whole concert was really well done.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Sledding



The girls love sledding.  Greg takes them all the time.  I have only been once, maybe twice.  And both time as a spectator.  I don’t particularly like standing around in the cold and I have for the last 14 years refused to partake in sledding activities.  For those who don’t know, on January 1st, 2002 or was it already January 2nd?? We were in the middle of nowhere at a cabin in SK and we decided to go tubing down a very unsafe ice filled with bumps and hills.  Was alcohol involved? Yes by everybody but me.  And that is why I ended up breaking my leg.  It sucked.  It was a clean break so no surgery required but I had a cast on from that night until mid March.  And it was in my final year of University.  It sucked.  And ever since then I have hated sledding.  I even got anxiety watching the girls go down the hill – especially by themselves.  It got so bad last year that I refused to go watch at all. 
I didn’t particularly want to go on this beautiful Sunday but Penelope really wanted me to.  So I gave in.
Hauling the sleds from the car to the hill.  We are lucky enough to have a great hilly area right in our community so we don’t have to go far.  It’s a soccer field that is down low and so it is surrounded by a hill.  There is a smaller hill near the playground and the bigger hill on the other side.  
Getting ready to head down for the first run of the day.  Surprisingly enough it wasn’t very busy considering how nice it was.  We figure Christmas shopping was getting in the way of enjoying the weather.
Down they go
Greg and Penelope on their way down.  The green one is super fast and the red one turns a lot.  
Double wide!
Oops.  She let the sled slide back down.  Instead of climbing the few feet up and going back down on the green sled, they both slid on their bellies back to the red sled and brought it back up.  I don’t understand their logic.
And then Penelope said I should go down and so I did.  I didn’t want them to know I was terrified of this and for the reason because it might scare them of doing it or make them scared of trying new things.  I was terrified.
But it was fun and I ended up going down several times by myself and with the girls.  And happy to report no broke bones!!
I had hoped that this would allow me to take the girls sledding in the afternoons but so far I haven’t been able to.  Maybe I just need more practice haha.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Penelope's Christmas Concert




Penelope had her Christmas Concert recently and she was so excited!  She has been singing everyday for weeks leading up to this big day.
I forgot to take a photo before we left our house so had to settle for one here.  It’s not great, I apologize.
Can you see the excitement in her face?  She was isn her element!
Unlike last year, she participated in everything.  It was great to watch!
She is such a sweet heart when she wants to be!
The end.
I am sad that this is our last Christmas Concert here at this preschool.  It truly is a wonderful school and would recommend it anybody who lives in the South looking for a top notch school.  The staff is amazing, its a great mix of educational based and play based.  My kids have loved every teacher and assistant they have gotten. Truly awesome!  It’s gonna be a sad day when Penelope graduates in June!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Homemade Korean Beef



This was amazing.  It was as good as any Korean food that I have ever had.  For reals. A friend shared it and I tried it that very night alternating the recipe slightly.
Unfortunately I don’t have the website where this recipe comes from so if it is yours or you know where it is from – let me know and i can update this!
Korean Beef
Ingredients
1 pound lean ground beef (I didn’t have any so I used some rib eyes cut into thin slices)
¼ – ½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, grated
½ teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
½ – 1 teaspoon crushed red peppers (I used a bunch of chill flakes, it was hot)
Salt and Pepper
1 bunch of green onions, diced (i skipped this as we had none)
Method
1.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown hamburger (steak) with garlic in the sesame oil
2.  Drain most of the fat and add brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper and red peppers.
3.  Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavours.  
4.  Server over steamed rice and top with green onions.
Everybody loved this.  I wish I would have made double so I could have had more, it was that good.  I put in a lot of chill flakes and so it was pretty hot but oh so good.  I cannot wait to make this again!!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Whipped Shortbread



By far my most favourite Christmas treat is whipped shortbread.  I love how it just melts in your mouth.  Every year I look forward to going home and eating all my Aunty’s Sandy’s shortbread.  I prefer this 10 times out of 10 to the shortbread that you roll out and use a cookie cutter.  I have memories of doing this with my Grandma Taggart using the blue can that holds macadamia nuts from Hawaii as the cutter to get her cookies oh so perfect.  After she passed away, I remember spending many weekends baking with my Aunty Sandy.  And I appreciate all that time she spent with me doing it so now I can do it for my friends here in Calgary and of course my girls. 
Whipped shortbread is also my go-to for Christmas Cookie Exchanges.  I am in 2 this year and I have already baked 12 dozen plus the ones not good enough to be given out and therefore eaten by me.  It is the only thing I bake that I am confident enough in passing along to my friends.  I tried making it with whole wheat flour a few christmas’ ago but it was not as good.  Not even close.  Greg might have gloated a little bit haha.
I have no idea where this recipe comes from but I am sure it’s one that most people use for whipped shortbread.  I am sure my Grandma Taggart got it from a friend or a cookbook way back when.  It’s the easiest thing ever to whip up which is maybe why I like it for cookie exchanges!
Whipped Shortbread
Ingredients
1lb butter softened
1 cup icing sugar
3 cups of flour
Method
1. Preheat oven to 350
2.  Whip your butter in your mixer until it is nice and fluffy.  Once you have reached this, scrape down the sides with a spatula
3. Add in the icing sugar.  Mix it until it is nicely combined.  Again, scrape down the sides.
4.  Gradually add in the flour. I do this while continually stopping my mixer and scraping down the sides so it all mixes nicely together.  
5.  Let it whip for at least 10 minutes.  If you find your dough a bit crumbly whipping it makes a huge difference and gives it the texture you need.
6.  Bake between 8+10 minutes until the edges are golden brown.
I ran into a problem this year and I am not sure if it is my new cookie pans or if it’s my stove but my cookies were not cooking consistently on my pan.  They ranged from perfect to undercooked to crispy on the bottom.  I tried several different methods within my stove and always got the same result.  I will have to make some sugar cookies to see what happens. 
Anyways, I really hope you give these a shot for your Christmas baking.  They really are delicious and so simple to make.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Butterscotch Confetti




I don’t do a whole lot of Christmas baking mostly because I don’t really need to.  I make some for any Christmas celebrations we have here but our family back home does such a good job that I don’t have to bring any home.
One of my favorites to bake is Butterscotch Confetti but if we are being completely honest, I make it year round – not just at Christmas time!
Unlike most stuff I do, I seem to get worse at making this.  When I first moved to Calgary 10 years ago, mine looked as delicious and perfect as my Aunty Sandy’s.  However, over time, mine has gotten lumpy and more gritty and I am not sure why except maybe I over cook the stuff on the stove? I also just noticed last Christmas that you are supposed to put a cup of marshmallows in it while it cools which I had never done  before and I am not sure if that is why?
Anyways, if you want to give it a try the recipe comes from a Company’s Coming Cookbook that my Aunty has but I was able o find a link to a blog who posted the same recipe http://faeriemousenibbles.blogspot.ca/2009/04/companys-coming-with-jean-pare.html
Ingredients
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup butterscotch chips
4 cups mini marshmallows

Melt butter and peanut butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Stir in butterscotch chips until melted. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup marshmallows until melted, or just about. Allow to cool for a few minutes, until you can hold your hand on the bottom of the pot, it should still be warm to touch.

Stir in remaining marshmallows until well coated. Pack into a 9 x 9 inch pan that has been lined with foil or parchment paper. Refrigerate and cut into 36 squares.

I freeze it as soon as it cools and hardens in the fridge.  I do that because if I didn’t, I would literally eat the whole thing in one sitting!!!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Panko Crusted Honey Mustard Salmon



I was perusing Pinterest for a good salmon recipe because I was bored of our usual glazed salmon.  I came across a pin from http://www.cookingclassy.com/2014/10/panko-crusted-honey-mustard-salmon/ for a Panko Crusted Honey Mustard Salmon.  It was delicious.  I paired it with stir fried zucchini which would have been better had I let it cook longer.  The method on this website was a little confusing so I am will just say how I did it.
Here is the recipe incase you woykd like to try it:
Panko Crusted Honey Mustard Salmon (adapted from cooking classy)
Ingredients:
4 (6oz) Salmon Filets
1 ½ tablespoon dijon mustard
1 ½ tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, grated (I used two)
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (omitted bc I had seasoned panko crumbs)
1 tsp lemon zest (omitted because I didn’t have any lemon)
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
Method
1.  Mix the honey, dijon mustard and garlic and stirred it all up.  Then I put the breadcrumbs in another bowl and drizzled in the olive oil and stirred it up.
2. Tin foil the baking pan and lay out the salmon fillets.  Sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper.
3. Spread the honey mustard sauce generously on the salmon and then sprinkle the crumbs on top.
4.  I preheated the oven at 350 and cooked my salmon for about 20 minutes.
I served this with stirfied Zucchini which consisted of EVOO, Soy Sauce, Garlic, salt and pepper. I think it might have tasted better had I cooked it a bit longer but it wasn’t awful.  While I will definitely make the salmon again, it’s iffy if I will ever make zucchini like this again.