Saturday, November 30, 2013

DIY: Christmas Countdown Calendar (Advent Calendar) +free printable!

I don't normally do much posting on the weekend, but this project has been in the works for a few days and with December 1 pending tomorrow I decided to make sure this got up today!

Now that American Thanksgiving is over, the holiday's are officially in full swing for my family! Even up here in Canada they had several "Black Friday" sales, it was fun to get out and pick up some goodies to put under the tree! I had also been working on getting something special prepped for my teenager for the holiday's. 

We always do some sort of advent/countdown calendar. I wanted this year's to be about more than just candy, but I also didn't want to give little trinkets that would just take up space and clutter up our small apartment. So, I came up with some clutter-less activities that allow us to spend time together as a family and give to those around us. Here is how I did it...

  • Advent Activities printed on Sticker paper
  • Something to put the candy/activities in
  • 1" punch
  • Small Candy

I gathered my advent calendar, the printable I made, my 1" punch, and some Hershey's kisses.

I used these kisses:
They were all my Shopper's had...and they are amazing!

Above is the 1" punch I use. If you don't have one but you craft a lot I highly recommend this one by EK Success. It is compact, it is an "easy punch", and it can be used for a variety of things...namely bottle cap crafts! So, take this punch and turn it upside down like this: 

Centre it over the words and wreath, and punch! I punched all of mine out first... 

....and then stuck it to the bottom of the Hershey's Kiss!

Cute, huh?!

Then I put it behind the appropriate door! 

Now, something to keep in mind when deciding which activities to use is check your calendar. Some of the activities are quite easy and can be done even on a busy day. For example one is read a holiday book, another is have dinner in front of the Christmas Tree, have a red & green themed dinner. Those are things that don't really take any extra effort, but can go a long way in making great memories!

I printed this calendar and as I put the activities in the box, I wrote down what was being done on each day so that way each evening I can look ahead to what activity is on schedule for the next day so if it involves pancakes, waffles, hot cocoa, etc I can make sure those are prepped the night before; or, if it involves going somewhere I can make sure I tell everyone to be on schedule!

Now, how did I come up with the activity ideas? I tried to choose things that were cheap, mostly clutter-less, and ones that could help my teenager think of others. I scoured pinterest, facebook, and and several blogs looking for ideas, but most of them are unique because honestly most of the ideas I found involved a lot of "stuff" or expense. 

Here are the ideas I used and what I am doing for each one:

Hot Cocoa Breakfast with cookies
Holiday Light Displays
Ice Skating-Sundae Bar
See a parade
Reflect on the year
Commemorate the day in video or pics
Look at neighborhood lights
Play Charades
Red & Green Themed Dinner
Have a dance party
Sing Carols
Game night
Go play in the snow
Roast marshmallows in the fire
Go see a holiday movie in theater
Make goals for next year
Popcorn Garland
Mail Xmas Cards to friends
Xmas Trivia
Popcorn & Movie
Look @ Xmas Lights
Merry Christmas
Tree Lighting & Carol Ships (this is unique to our city, but your city may have a tree lighting)
Donate coats to a charity
Night Before Christmas (movie/book)
Donate a toy to charity
Bake Gingerbread Men
Make Fudge
Make puff pain snowflakes
Candle light dinner
Polar Express (movie/book)
Make mom & dad a present
Pancakes & Cocoa
Open Presents
Dress fancy for dinner
Bake Spritz Cookies
Write to Santa
Visit holiday attraction at a museum
Take a cookie basket to friends (use the cookies you've baked earlier in the countdown)
Do something nice for Mom & Dad
Magic Cookie Bars
Waffles & Cocoa
Living room fort
PJ Party
Christmas Market
Visit Santa
Dinner in front of Xmas Tree
Breakfast in front of Xmas Tree
List what you are thankful for
Craft Day
How the Grinch Stole Xmas
Send hug to out of town family
Look at the holiday window displays
Holiday Book
Xmas Movie

On Friday's and the days my teen is on holiday break I put in two activities because I really wanted us to be doing a lot together. I think this will be so fun.

Some ideas in the event you don't have an advent calendar like I do socks to a line of string hung on the wall, hang numbered socks on the tree and the let the kids pick them off each day, hang a string or string of lights and use numbered clothespins to pin pieces of paper with the day's activity to it. Think outside the box, have fun with it!

How do you kick off your holiday season???

I would love to see your holiday activities! Leave a link in the comments or some share with us on facebook! 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Family Favorite's Friday!

So, I am starting a new series each Friday during the winter showcasing some of my family's favourite meals. These won't necessarily be healthy, but they are favorites that I try to make every now and again. The first is...

Hubby's Favourite Chicken Alfredo

I titled this “favourite” because it is one of my husband’s favourite meals I make. I don’t make it often because, well, it quite frankly is a heart attack on a plate lol But, if you are serving it I suggest to do it right. Use real fettuccine, real cheese, all that good stuff. Here’s the recipe:

Serves 4 (generously)

1 jar of Classico Alfredo sauce or Ragu Alfredo sauce
2-3 chicken breasts
½ a box of fettuccini
Various spices (I use nature’s seasons)
1T olive oil
Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses (to taste)

Cube the chicken breasts. In a pan heat the oil over med-med hi heat and throw in the chicken breasts season all over with the nature’s or all-purpose seasoning of your choice. This is best when you let the chicken fry up so it’s kind of brown on one side. Flip it and let it cook until done. Turn the heat down to low and pour in the Alfredo sauce let it warm while the pasta finishes cooking.

While that is cooking bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions.
Then, add the pasta to the pot with chicken and sauce. Let simmer together. If it seems a little thick add a dash or two of milk to thin it out a bit. Add some seasoning and let simmer for 5 minutes or so.
Dish out and top with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.


Best served with a nice salad and some garlic cheese bread.

Like I said this is a real treat, not something you have every day but makes a nice Sunday dinner or birthday dinner in this case!

Come on over and join me on Facebook and tell me about some of your family’s favourite “treat” meals. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

An Honest Account: Focus T25 Beta

Rip'T Circuit

So, this is my second round of T25. The first round I must admit I was not impressed all, sadly! In fact I was ready to sell my DVD's. However,  a woman I greatly admire became a beachbody coach and was putting together a T25 group that she didn't require drink Shakeology which was awesome so I decided to join her. I also made a pact with myself to work as hard as possible during every single 25 minute workout. After all, you only get out of a workout what you put into it.

Here are my before T25 Alpha and after T25 Alpha...

It doesn't seem like there is a huge difference but there is definitely some thinning in my abdominal area & my legs are losing fat & gaining a ton of muscle. I will admit too this is with minimal diet changes too. I still have some sort of chocolate after lunch (usually a homemade paleo PB cup or some paleo hot chocolate lol) and often times a small dessert in the evening. Friday's during our new restaurant visits I get pretty much whatever I want...but I am naturally a veggie lover anyway so that helps ;)

Anyway, moving on to beta!

This is my second week in beta. First week was killer...incorporating weights/resistance into the programme really gives the workouts some dimension. Now I go a bit heavier than I normally would simply because you aren't using the weights for terribly long so I felt like I could up the weights a little.

Rip'T Circuit I feel is closely related to Total Body from Alpha Round. It gets the whole body but when you work on an area I feel like it works it a little deeper than the total body. Plus, it has less push-ups than total body! HA! Rip't has definitive arm, leg, ab movements. I also feel like the moves in this one are all new. During alpha round I could totally tell when something was just a variation from Hip Hop Abs, Rockin' Body, Insanity, etc. But, this time around things just seemed new & fresh for this, it is only 25 minutes! ;)

So, that is my assessment of rip't. It's a great DVD and is slowly but surely becoming one of my favorites! What is your favorite workout?

What I Ate Wednesday +my week in workouts!

Well, welcome back to another edition! I have to be honest I have been horrible about recording what I eat...which is probably why my diet hasn't been 100% here lately! But, I resolve to take more pictures to share that will also help me eat a little healthier too! ;)

Lunch last Thursday: leftover pizza, apple, and spinach and mushrooms with hummus. I actually only ate half that pizza lol

This beauty was from our new restaurant Friday. So delicious and totally warmed me up!

I *had* to make some alfredo the other day because I needed a few pictures for Friday's blog post. I served it with whole wheat noodles. It was delicious.

This morning's breakfast with my girl. I only ate half and gave the other half to a homeless gentleman that fell asleep in a booth. It was worth it to #halfitup. 

Now for the week in workouts. I have to say I am working ten times harder in T25 this time around than last time. My muscles are feeling the work for sure. They are fatigued, but in a very good way. Heck sometimes I don't even know a patch of muscles is aching until I start my next workout! So I would 100% recommend you doing this IF you are dedicated to working hard and pushing yourself. So, anyway this is my week in can see last week's here...

Wednesday: Rip'T Circuit
Thursday: Dynamic Core
Friday: Exhausted so I took a rest day. After a few late nights & the Xbox One launch the night before I too the day off!
Saturday: Upper Focus & Core Cardio
Sunday: Yoga at lulu lemon
Monday: Dynamic Core
Tuesday: Core Cardio
Wednesday: Back around to Rip'T Circuit

Starting tomorrow watch for a series I will do that will again give my unbiased (since I am NOT a beach body coach) opinion on T25 Beta. When I reviewed it in the summer I got busy and had forgotten to write about the beta round! Oops! So, watch for that!

I hope all of my United States friends have a very happy thanksgiving tomorrow...enjoy yourselves and take lots of pictures to share! Also, come visit me over on Facebook!!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Menu Plan Monday #28 +Weekend Recap

So this weekend in the city consisted of a whole lot of trying to stay warm inside! We've yet to go shopping for our skiing stuff because these three Florida babes just cannot make ourselves go out in O Celsius weather! Brrrr! But, here is a look at what our weekend was like in pictures...because we all know a pictures is worth more than words...

It started off with lots of fun at the Xbox One Launch at our local EB Games. My husband is in the industry and was always told being a gamer will grow old...they apparently didn't know he was still 10 years old deep down inside and being in the industry only makes his passion for every game that comes out that much more exciting...

Her winter coat has a the she decided to come out in three hoodies lol! She wouldn't let me get a picture of it so I am posting this more embarrassing one instead ;) 

He came out in a thick hoodie & a thick fleece lined leather jacket! LOL I live with a bunch of winter wimps! How those two will survive snowboarding this year I have no idea!

Pleased as punch with this day one console!

I love how for all their exclusive games, those that picked them up on day one Xbox marked them Day One with the date. Makes it that much more awesome. Very classy, Microsoft!

Again with the "Day One"...this really makes the effort of getting it preordered and waiting a bit in the cold that much more worth it!

Friday brought about a trip to the dentist for my little and then we went to see Catching was amazing go see it if you haven't. Then of course we couldn't give up our New Restaurant Friday. So we went to this little diner on Davie Street called Hamburger Mary's Diner. Not quite so sure why the reviews are so low on it. The food was great, drinks were awesome, and it was quite cozy to hangout with the family.

I think this was called the sunset. It was quite delicious and warmed me right up! ;)

These two sipping on the a couple of amazing milkshakes...Cherry & Strawberry! YUM! Btw, isn't this the most adorable father/daughter picture ever?!

Saturday I had some errands to run and was full of just tidying the house and spending time as a family...

I found some washi-like tape at the dollar store. It's not rice paper it's on, it is more like a wax paper but it is great for embellishing planners, cards, gifts,etc. Plus, three roles for CAD$1.25 can't be beat!

That night was spent around the table enjoying some monopoly, cocoa, Christmas carols and time unplugged as a family. Can't ask for more on a cold fall night.

Sunday was spend going to yoga with the teenager (I wrote about this on my facebook page), then she had a friend come over and they took off to hours of tumbling and cheer, then the husband and I just spend some nice romantic time alone. I swear, after 15 years you would think that gets old, but it doesn't. 

I did reach a goal this weekend finally...the entire weekend, at the end of each day I saw this...

This app is the Waterlogged App. During the weekend I get so busy that I forget to drink water, so this weekend I was determined to make sure I reached my 64 ounces every, single day...and I DID! YAY! 

So that way our is my menu for the week...

Monday: Cereal
Tuesday: Eggs hash (with peppers, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes)
Wednesday: French toast bake and hard boiled eggs
Thursday: (Happy American Thanksgiving, Friends!) I am keeping the kiddo home in the morning from school to watch the parade so we will have some gingerbread pancakes and maple syrup, we'll split a hot cocoa
Friday: Hard boiled eggs and leftover pancakes
Saturday: Leftover french toast bake or pancakes
Sunday: Big brunch of omelettes, bacon, and whatever is leftover of that french toast bake or pancakes

Kiddo: Leftover pizza and an apple Me: leftovers of some kind
Kiddo: Turkey wraps and peppers Me: Turkey wraps and mushrooms and peppers
Kiddo: Sandwich with an apple Me: Leftovers of some kind
Kiddo: Turkey salad with apple or pear slices, almond butter for dipping Me: pumpkin spice protein shake and a turkey wrap
Kiddo: Eat Out Me: Lunch with the hubs
Hamburgers with a big salad on the side
We will have eaten a big brunch so we will just snack on popcorn, cheese, etc.

Monday: Chicken Alfredo with side salad 
Tuesday: Tacos with salad (these will be traditional & bean & veggie)
Wednesday: Ribs with salad, corn, and acorn sqush
Thursday: Pork chops and chickpea patties with sweet potatoes, potato wedges with cheese & bacon, and sauteed mushrooms & peppers
Friday: New Restaurant Friday
Saturday: Spaghetti (I will make spaghetti squash for me), with garlic bread and a big salad
Sunday: Sausage & peppers with salad and any leftover squash

  • So, how was your weekend...did you meet any goals you were wanting to meet for the week? I did, I met my water goal! YAY!
  • What is your favorite meal you are most looking forward to cooking this week? There are two, one the chicken alfredo because it is my hubby's favorite meal, my second are the ribs because those are my favorite!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Guest Post: Christmas Card DIY

Hello! Today we have a fantastic guest post thanks to the ladies over at Chaotic Goddess! They did an awesome swap for us bloggers to help each other out, and I got the amazing Tawny from Tawny's Tid Bits! Go check out her site to see my post! 

Hi everyone!!! I'm Tawny and I blog over at Tawny's Tid Bits.  I'm taking over Kate's blog today because we signed up for the Chaotic Goddess Swaps  and were so lucky to receive each other as partners.

Just a little about me before I bring you a DIY project (which it seems Kate and I both have in common).

You can learn a little about me here.
I'm a fairly new blogger (February 2013) and I love it, although sometimes I have my blogger ruts. Who doesn't?
What does Tawny mean? I knew of the definition, but I wanted to know more.
I ran my first 1/2 marathon this year and plan to do it again next. Will I ever do a full one? Ehh.. not sure.
I love Tough Mudders!
My husband and I just celebrated our 4 year anniversary!
I love to geocache in my spare time! It's a form of free fun (well you gotta pay for gas).
I have a linkup every Sunday, Instagram Recap.
I have spelunked before, LOVED IT!! I want to do the 6-8 hour one, just haven't made the appointment yet.
I love DIY's..... about 70% of the time it is a success. Other times, not so much!
I love to cook and try out new recipes when I have the time.

Now onto the DIY stuff!!!! Christmas time is just around the corner so what better time to get started on DIY cards.  I've found plenty on Pinterest, but for some reason this caught my eye. Simple, yet cute!

You'll need:

  • A notecard of choice.
  • Super glue or plain ol' glue will do.
  • Ink pad
  • Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday's stamp of choice
  • Any kind of stamp with birds sitting on a branch. 
  • Ruler
  • Color, size, and number of buttons is up to you.
  • Black pen
  • Stamp for the back of the card (optional)

You'll stamp the birds either at the top left or the top right, choice is up to you. Then you'll stamp the Merry Christmas at the opposite side on the bottom. You want room for your "ornaments".

Use your ruler to draw straight lines at whatever length you please.

Glue your buttons on. 

And for the back you can really do anything. For some reason I liked this heart, but I also have a "homemade" stamp. I thought about writing something on the back, but not sure what. Was going to sign our last name, but I will be writing it in the card, so why sign on the back? Any ideas?

Hope you enjoyed it and be sure to check out my Pinterest board for card making!

Be sure to stop by any of my social media pages and say hello!  Love to meet new bloggers!

Twitter   I  Pinterest   I   Instagram  I   Goodreads  I  Bloglovin  I  Facebook  I   GFC

 photo tawnysiggy_zps35e4128e.png

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday is BACK!!! +WOD's

Happy Wednesday, folks! What I ate Wednesday is finally back! I sort of got out of my blogging groove there for a bit, but I'm back in full force!

I will admit, I actually fell out of the habit of photographing some of what I was eating, so since I forgot last Wednesday to take pictures I figured I would feature what I ate this past weekend. It's a doozy of a weekend since it was my birthday! ;)

Friday, for my birthday the hubs and I went out and did a little shopping, we needed some nourishment so I got a beet smoothie from Jugo Juice. I love Jugo juice, it's basically Jamba Juice, but they have juice with beets! Yum!

This was a post workout lunch one day last week. It was a one egg omlette with 2 or 3 egg whites. It's filled with spinach, zucchini, onion, and a little ham. I had some toast with it. 

These next two beauties are from my birthday celebration. We went out with friends for my birthday, one of my friends actually has the same birthdate as me so it was fun to go celebrate together! 

These two above are from a place called the Bellagio here in Vancouver. It was ok. The lobster in it was amazing! I prefer a creamier mac & cheese though, but all-in-all not a bad treat on my birthday! 

Last is yesterday's lunch. It was from whole foods...some mac & cheese (super creamy and absolutely perfect) and a stuffed piece of tofurkey. It was really, really good! 

My workouts here lately have consisted of Focus T25. I joined a fitness challenge group that an amazing woman who runs this awesome page on Facebook (go like it!) started and this time around I am really seeing results! I think because I am in a group and am reporting my daily workout and how I did, plus I feel like I have workout buddies so it makes me more motivated to get going and workout hard! So, here is my schedule for the last week...I actually never took a rest day!

Wednesday: Total Body Circuit & Ab Intervals
Thursday: Cardio
Friday: Total Body Circuit & Lower Focus
Saturday: Speed 1.0
Sunday: Yoga at Lulu Lemon
***Start T25 Beta***
Monday: Core Cardio
Tuesday: Speed 2.0
Today: Rip'T Circuit

I am seeing some serious results this time around for T25, can't wait to see my results from Beta, especially since I am really trying hard to focus on nutrition this time around and not eat too much bad stuff (yeah, I'm laughing since this last weekend for my birthday I totally went all out & treated myself!).

What is your favorite workout you've done this past week?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

What we ate in Whistler

When we were in Whistler last weekend we obviously had to eat! So, this is dedicated to all the delicious food we had that evening! If you want to read my reviews of each place you can visit my yelp page and check them out. 

On our way out of town up to Whistler we stopped in Squamish at The Campfire Grill. We ate here once during the summer and it is the best BBQ we have had outside of the southern U.S. It really is amazing. The guy who runs the kitchen (maybe the whole place, not real sure) definitely knows what he is doing...everything we get, every single time is amazing. If you are out that way you HAVE to stop there, seriously, it's not optional! LOL During the summer you can eat outside and view the mountains, during the fall this time we ate in doors and the have an adorable wood burning stove, it is all quite charming.

Our view out the window, the hotel is a little weird,
but very small town. Love the mountains though!

Inside of the place, it's small, but that's why we like it!

View out the back windows, that is where we ate this summer when we came.
They also have heaters set up all over the place, it can get
chilly in there so I was glad for the heater!

The food! It was so delicious! There was chicken, pork, brisket, ribs, roll, sweet potato mash, and mac and cheese. I wish the mac and cheese was creamier, but I honestly think that is the southerner in me because no mac & cheese I get up here is like southern mac and cheese.
The first place we ate at Friday night was 21 Steps. They managed to seat us right away, service was meh, they definitely could use to work on that, food was average. It was good, but not spectacular. Definitely a great place to chill and enjoy company. What drew us here was the meal special they had going on it was 3 courses for $35...really great for around here!


Caprese Salad

Some sort of chicken wings, sadly the sauce they put on them was cold so we only ate one.

Fish, veggies, and rice & beans
Ribeye...was cooked just right, the husband enjoyed it!

Espresso Mud Pie! I pretty much just ate the giant chocolate chunks!
Creme Brulee
 The next morning we ate at the restaurant that was in our hotel, Elements. When we got on the wait list they said it would be about 10 minutes, but I don't think we waited quite that long. Once we were seated the service seemed a bit slow, but our waitress was great and given how busy they were I don't think it could be helped. Of course we hadn't eaten since about 6pm the night before, so by 10:30 am we were pretty much ready to chew our own arm off, 5 minutes felt like an eternity! So, take my "slow" service comment with a grain of salt ;) Here's the food...

Coffee! This was very, delicious. I find it hard to find
good coffee at restaurants, this was delicious though!

Crab Eggs Benedict. Can you believe that in my 32 years of life this was the first time I had ever had eggs benedict! It was a great first time!

Saturday night we dined at a great little Italian place called Quattro Formaggi. This was pretty good! Servings were HUGE!!!

Giant pepper grinder (found a Winners lol) highlight of the night I think! ha!

Spaghetti bolognese with beef and lamb and herbed ricotta. It was really good, but a huge portion, I only ate about a quarter of it! 

Fried polenta with fried prosciutto. Quite tasty!
Sunday for breakfast we went to Wildwood Cafe, but I didn't get any pictures, it's right near the village so it is worthwhile going over there. Prices were good and the food was amazing! Sunday night we ate dinner at Ric's, it was awful. I do not at anytime recommend eating there. Service was terrible, food was terrible, just an all around terrible time. Completely disappointing.

However, just around the corner from Ric's is Bear Foot Bistro. Inside they have an Ice Room with many, many different vodka's for tasting! The guy running it is a gem...full of personality and ready and willing to answer any and all questions. This was my favourite vodka of the night....

My favourite vodka at the tasting in the ice room. It tasted like pie, I thought apple but others thought cherry and pecan, we all felt like it tasted sure was good though!
To wrap up this spectacular weekend I ended it with nothing but...

These are from Crepe Montagne . They were amazing and a great way to end the weekend!

All the places, with the exception of Ric's were really good and we would definitely dine at them again if we visit Whistler again.