Inspired via: dining rooms

Happy leap year day!

B knows I love Pinterest. But really, its not just a time waster. I have been using it to find inspirations for home decor. We have been decorating very slowly. I would rather spend extra time finding the right furniture at the right price than buy junk then spend even more money replacing it with something I actually like. We are also renting so I do not want to buy things that fit the house... I want to buy things that can move and grow with us. Here's my dining room inspiration. We have a table but need chairs. Comfortable chairs. Modern chairs. Functional chairs. I just want nice chairs so I can have people over to cook for them!

1 2 3 4 5 6

I do have a few things narrowed down. I do not like spindles. I like neutrals. I also like a cushion! The hunt continues. 

In the meantime... I also have some home decor craft inspirations!

I need to make scrubbies for dish washing, cushions for the sunroom in a color that goes with mint, and an HBC inspired blanket... since I am always chilled by the air conditioning!


Check it off

We have been busy around here... like always. With a big to-do list and still time to relax, I'd say we had a great weekend. 

Completed to dos:
wash car
get lawnmower & cut grass
plants herbs
clean house
make muffins (...  and cookies!)
cook dinner for friends
celebrate a friend's bday with lots of Italian food and wine
get groceries
paint nails

 We also made shrimp stir-fry this weekend. It was the best I have ever had. Want to know the secret? We got a cast iron wok and made it on the charcoal BBQ! B really know how to cook but he impressed me with this one. The flower bushes are also in full bloom in the front yard.

When I get bored, I bake. I noticed we were out of our fave chocolate chip banana muffins this morning so I made more. I have also been thinking of making oatmeal cookies (no raisins, of course) so I made 36 of those too. They are delish. I sent B a pic of them thinking it may bribe him to come home from work a tad early!

Finally, I have some exciting news!
I planted my garden last week, thursday to be exact. Well... we have sprouts already! Specific items to make an appearance: radishes, kale, mixed lettuce, and peas. I cannot believe how fast they showed up. I think gardening in the south is perfect for someone who has a nickname of "impatient irene"... and that someone may be me.


Chaturanga motivation

On Friday, I had the best yoga class I have attended in years... seriously. I am not sure what made it amazing. I felt powerful and gave it everything I had during class. I also made some significant improvements on my chaturanga. The instructor played opera music during class and jazz during savasana. The pace was perfect. She did lots of adjustments during class. She also had a fun European accent. Is it the instructor that makes the class? Or do you create your own successful class?




A short week = less photos. Here in Louisiana it was a three day week as Monday and Tuesday were holidays for B. Okay... and everyday is still a holiday for me but I like to pretend as though I deserve a stat holiday for two! 

 1. Family of ours gave us a subscription to Southern Living for Christmas. Our first magazine arrived this week. I loved that it was a color issue (it had some amazing color combinations!) and some great recipes... that may not be so healthy but I can always modify. For example, why do cheese biscuits need 1c shortening? I'll just keep my regular recipe or ask my mom for hers! 2. One of the buildings at LSU, taken as we walked through campus, on a beautiful day! 3. Mike the Tiger. I'm his #1 fan... from the other side of the fence. 4. Have you ever had petite petit? I am a huge fan of this wine. We had it when out to dinner at The Grape with some colleagues of B. The food was amazing. The chef even made us a special oyster appetizer then came out to chat with the group. He looks like he is 18 but really knows how to cook. If you come visit me, there is a strong chance you will be going here for dinner one night.

5. Another staple in the south... frozen yogurt. I wear this place has the highest frozen yogurt shops per capita. We love Yogurtland. I like my yogurt with fruit and gummy bears. 6. I bought silver sparkly TOMS in the summer for our trip to Paris. I am still in love with these shoes. It is because of the comfort or that they remind me of Paris? 7. The birds have flown south for the winter and they all live at my local lake. I love their color and that they just walk around like they are humans. Stopping to take a photo did not phase them one bit! 8. Best compliment this week = "your strawberry shortcake is as good as my grandmothers". And guess what... it does not include shortening! 

Have a great weekend! 


And now we wait

I finally planted my garden yesterday. I have spent the past few weeks cleaning out the garden beds and trying to improve the quality of the soil to produce the best vegetables possible. I decided to plant peas, beans, mix lettuce, kale, radishes, carrots, and chives. I still have to pick up my tomato plants and put some herbs in pots on the patio then my yard will be complete. Okay... maybe I will plant some flowers too. 

If I forget to water my garden my lawn goat will remind me... or we will just have some crazy downpours and mother nature will take care of it for me. The oregano is left over from the previous owners!

And now we wait...


Avocado salad dressing

We love to make our own salad dressing. It is a much healthier option, no preservatives (how do regular ones last years months in the fridge?), and are oh so tasty! A friend recently gave me a copy of Everyday Food - The Light Issue. When I flipped though it I knew I had to try the chicken salad with avocado dressing (p. 19). Yes, I have been bragging that avocados are really cheap in the south... but we also got a charcoal grill and had some leftover chicken to use. 

Doesn't the dressing look amazing? I made mine slightly different that the recipe. Here's what I did:

2 avocados
1c almond milk
1 green onion
1/4c flat leaf parsley leaves
3T lemon juice
3 cloves garlic

Place all ingredients in a large mason jar. Blend until smooth with immersion blender (you could also use a food processor or regular blender to do this). Use on your delish food. To store, refrigerate in an air tight container... and it probably will not last months so use it quickly! So far we have used it on the chicken salad sandwiches, of course, and a salad with toast.

Even better... this creamy dressing will not make you think you need to do an extra workout. A quarter cup has approximately 71 calories, 6g fat, 2g protein, 5g carbs, and 3g fiber! Really? Who uses a quarter cup at once?


Strawberry bread

The with flat of strawberries that ended up coming home with me, I promised myself we would not waste any! We had bowls of strawberries for dessert, I froze some whole to make smoothies, and tried a new recipe. I found a recipe for strawberry bread on the Joy of Baking website. When I read that this bread was more like a cake, I knew I had to change something to make it more nutritious. It really outdid myself of this one. I was worried using only whole wheat flour and adding ground flax would make it to dry and dense. I was wrong! It turned out flavorful, light, and sweet. Exactly how I imagined it. Just another reason to eliminate white flour from your diet!

1/2 c unsalted butter
3/4 c granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 t Mexican vanilla
2 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c ground flax
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 t Mexican cinnamon
1/2 c plain lowfat yogurt
1 1/2 c chopped fresh strawberries

Preheat oven to 350F degrees and place the oven rack in the middle position. Butter and flour (or spray with a non stick vegetable/flour spray) the bottom and sides of a 9x5x3 loaf pan. 

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until softened (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, flax, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture (in three additions) and sour cream (in two additions) alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Mix only until combined. Gently fold in the chopped strawberries.  

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake about 1 hour, or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool and then remove the bread from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.


My Superfoods

Living in the south can be difficult for one reason... all the fried food. Okay and maybe the excessive rain too! We try not to eat out very much as the choices usually are not very healthy. To offset the times we go out for social events, we love to incorporate superfoods in our everyday cooking at home!

Here are some of my favorite superfoods.

Red berries: 
This week the choice was strawberries as they were on sale for $16/ flat!
Berries are loaded with vitamin C, folate, fiber and phytonutrients. Indeed, fresh berries are some of the most powerful disease fighting foods available. Berries are easy to prepare; just rinse and lightly pat dry. They are great as a dessert, a snack, or sprinkled on top of your morning porridge. This week I made strawberry bread:
But you must be patient, the recipe will be posted tomorrow so check back! I also made it healthier with rye flour and ground flax.
Chia seeds:
Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 and fatty acids, protein, vitamin B, calcium, potassium, and fiber. And no, you will not turn into a chia pet. I love to add chia seeds to things like the breakfast cookie and pizza crust!

Ever wonder how you can take tomato soup out of a can, add water and is still tastes good? Me too. But I also think there must be an easy way to make tomato soup from scratch! A while back I found the most fool proof recipe. It is simple, tastes good, and is easy to double or triple for leftovers! I hightly recommend trying it next time you want soup that does not come out of a can.
Tomatoes contain high levels of beta-carotene, antioxidant flavonoids and vitamin E. They provides 50 per cent of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C; they contain no saturated fatty acids, are low in salt, starch and sugars, high in dietary fibre and have a low glycaemic index.

Some of my other favorite super foods include blueberries, pumpkin, salmon, spinach, green tea, and yogurt. Hopefully this will inspire you to add some superfood to your everyday cooking!

Here is the view from my back window on Saturday. I hope we have a sunny week to dry up the lake in my backyard!

Remember to check back tomorrow for my strawberry bread recipe!


Yoga motivation

You may know I love Pinterest... or you may not even know what Pinterest is! I have some great motivation on my Fitness board that keeps me going all week and weekend. Not inspired? Check the board. Don't know what to do? Check the board. Trying to think of healthy recipes? Check the board.

Since I have a pass to Yoga Bliss, I am very motivated by yoga this week. It challenges me to push past my boundaries, conquer my fears, and kick my own butt!

Speaking of yoga. Go check out my friend Kellie's blog - Fit Your Life. She recently did a 30day yoga challenge and has some great reflections on her journey.

Go check out my fitness board... or better yet, start your own. 
Then go do a killer workout.



Well in the past 2 weeks, I have been referred to as a housewife, a homemaker, retired (moved south), and a stay at home mom with no kids. Okay, I may have had called myself the last two. So then you must wonder, what have been up to since I moved? Well other than working out, organizing our house, taking a trip (or two) to Whole Foods, and blogging... let me show you!

 1. The beautiful green grass by B's office at LSU. Its nice to see green grass in February. 2. I try to walk or run around the lake a few times a week. Well Monday morning I got a surprise when the lake was filled with wood flamingos... not real ones! I still have no clue why they are there. Can anyone from Baton Rouge tell me? Mardi Gras? 3. We have been eating tortilla chips and spinach artichoke hummus like its the last food on earth. We had a bag of tortillas to use up so I made chips rather than another trip to Whole Foods... shucks! 4. Have you tried the gingersnap Lara bar? Delish!

5. I may or may not have bought these books at Barnes & Nobel with a gift card this week. 6. We stopped for a quick dinner at Carrabba's when out shopping for furniture. I had the meatball pasta. Mmm. 7. I bought a flat of strawberries this week. I did not want them to go bad so I froze a bunch on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. When they are frozen I can put them in a ziplock bag and they will not be stuck together. Best freezing trick ever. 8. I bought B a package of Justin's peanut butter cups for V-day.

I'd call it a productive week!

What have you been up to?



Its no secret, I love Whole Foods. There are so many wonderful things I could not buy in Canada. And contrary to their nickname (Whole Paycheck), most items are cheaper than Safeway... a basic Canadian grocery store. Here are some of my most recent finds:

3 different yogurts (redwood hills farm strawberry, brown cow peach, & wallaby organic peach)
Tazo iced chai tea
WF ginger peach black tea
Okios vanilla nonfat greek frozen yogurt
Justin's organic peanut butter cups (a vday gift for B)

Thank you Whole Foods for bringing variety to my fridge. I appreciate it!
Next purchases from WF - a rain barrel and herbs for my sunroom.

Today's Bodyrock workout:
I loved today's workout. It was just the right combination of strength and cardio.
1 x Push-Up + Clean & Press & Squat & Press - 5, 5
L Lunge & Press - 11, 12
R Lunge & Press - 13, 12
Side Jump, Centre Push Up, Side Jump - 8, 8
Single Arm Clean & Press - 10, 12
Knee Lift - 21, 21
Left Leg Bridge - 19, 21
Right Leg Bridge - 16, 22
Over Head Abs - 10, 11


V-day at my place

I love Valentine's Day. Its a day of love, caring, and romance. What's not to love?
Yesterday morning started with a trip to the bank then to SB for a cold drink. Well... my plan changed when I saw the "love" cups. I was feelin an iced coffee because it was a beautiful day but ended up getting a caramel macchiato just for the cup!

For dinner we went to my place... okay, not my place. But we did go to Chelsea's Cafe. The restaurant is a 15 minute walk from our house. The perfect distance to get some exercise while walking to dinner. Chelsea's has a terrific menu, great prices, and the service was amazing. Our server made some great recommendations and he did not rush our meal. 

To start we had the boudin links served with pepper jelly and yellow mustard.  Much healthier than the tradition fried boudin balls and allows the flavor to come through.
For dinner,  B had the crawfish risotto: crawfish tails, red & green peppers, red onions, mushrooms and tomatoes sauteed in olive oil & garlic finished with Italian cheese blend & Arborio rice simmered in a rich chicken stock.
I had the fried green tomatoes with 6 grilled jumbo shrimp, remoulade, and spring mix. My shrimp were definitely the star of the show.  They were so fresh... oh I love seafood in the south!
For dessert we had the "hockey puck"... or so it says on our receipt. It was a triple layer mousse cake with a strawberry. When I asked the server how big it was, he came back to tell me it was the size of a hockey puck. He seemed very hesitant like he did not actually know what size it would be. We giggled as we knew exactly what he meant. It was exactly what I hoped for.

We finished the day with our fave tradition. Homemade cards. 
How romantic.

Bodyrock challenge update:
I have been keeping up with my workouts! I finished today's rep challenge in 17:26.3.


Privileges and obligations

A king cake is a type of cake associated with the festival of Epiphany in the Christmas season in a number of countries, and in other places with the pre-Lenten celebrations of Mardi Gras. The king cake is closely associated with Mardi Gras traditions and is served throughout the Carnival season, which lasts from Epiphany Eve to Fat Tuesday. The most simple, said to be the most traditional, is a ring of twisted bread similar to that used in brioche topped with icing or sugar, usually colored purple, green, and gold (the traditional Mardi Gras colors) with food coloring. The cake has a small trinket (often a small plastic baby, said to represent Baby Jesus) inside (or sometimes placed underneath), and the person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket has various privileges and obligations. It has become customary in the Southern culture that whoever finds the trinket must provide the next king cake or host the next Mardi Gras party. 

"Welcome to the neighborhood. Have a King cake. We hope to see you at the parade next weekend."

Little does our neighbor Bob know, I like to bake. He may be getting a homemade king cake in return.
There are some great recipes online that to not seem to complex.

Time to go workout again... 


Foodie adventures

We had a busy and fun filled weekend. We had to get insurance, look at furniture, run errands, and get groceries. The best part of the weekend The food, of course! 

Friday night we went to the food truck gathering by our house. We saw many of the BR food trucks on Eat Street so we were very excited to give them a try. In attendance was Taco do Paco and Curbside of the ones we wanted to try.
 I had the daily special - the "grilled cheese burger" (a burger with lettuce tomato, and a slice of grilled cheese) which was delicious. Brian had the "Brian burger" (a burger with pork belly preserves) which he also enjoyed. We also shared a side of the parmesan fries which were a major highlight for us. We also tried the chicken taco from Taco de Paco as I have been wanting to try their truck. It was no where near as good as Curbside's burgers but it would suffice for street food.

After a chilly and rainy day the burger really satisfied my hunger. We were lucky the rain stopped for the event but the event was quieter than I expected.

Saturday morning we got up early to go to the Red Stick Farmer's Market. I did not take many photos as it was still quite chilly and I wanted to keep my hands warm, maybe next time. I did not buy much as the produce is more pricy than the local produce market but muffuletta bread, goat cheese, and honey found its way into my basket.

Then, to my surprise, we went to the indoor portion only to find some of the local food trucks have permanent stands at the market! I love crepes so I knew I had to have a GoYaya crepe for breakfast. No, I did not have 4 crepes for breakfast, but it was so delicious and appetizing it deserved multiple photos!
It was the ham, spinach, and brie crepe with strawberry preserves.  I hope to take visitors here in the future as I think it is something everyone would really enjoy.

Time to go work off all this wonderful food and start planning my garden. See you tomorrow!


Deja vu

{the experience of feeling sure that one has already witnessed or experienced a current situation, even though the exact circumstances of the prior encounter are uncertain and were perhaps imagined}

I feel like we've seen a similar post... it might have been yesterday. 
Yesterday I spent my day painting.
Little did I knot (until I was cleaning everything) I was using oil based paint. I had a nice white coat all over my hands that would not come off until we went out to buy mineral spirits. Miracle worker that one is... Don't worry, I took off my ring prior to painting. Might be the best decision I made yesterday. The sunroom trim is complete... now I just need to figure out what to use to paint the floor. Any suggestions?

I made another new recipe last night. I read this recipe a while back and knew I needed to try it since B bought a butternut squash. It is called Butternut squash mac n cheeze by Oh She Glows. Notice a trend? Vegan dinner for a second time this week! In the words of B: "if  you did not tell me where you got this recipe I would think it was filled with cheesy goodness". It was amazing. We absolutely loved it and think you would too. Please go make it asap then send me a thank you card... a great meal and great for you too!

I did my daily bodyrock workout again today. I would not want to admit that I skipped it... blog commitment is the best motivation ever!
Sandbag Shoulder Lift & Drop (L & R Shoulder) - 18, 17, 19 
1 Leg Push-up’s & jump over the Sandbag bag - 7, 8, 8 
10 High Knees & 10 Mountain Climbers - 3, 3, 3 
Tuck Knees & Explosive Star Jump - 10, 10, 12

Star Abs - 15
Left Oblique Plank & Side Drop - 31
Right Oblique Plank & side Drop - 31

BTW - our internet goes out everyday at 8am and 8pm for a few minutes. Deja vu?

In other exciting news - there is a food truck gathering 5 blocks from our house tomorrow night! I cannot wait to try Taco de Paco!


Avocado pasta

Last night after running some errands, we made dinner. It was a new recipe for us... and definitely one we will keep for quick week night meals. 

Doesn't the sauce look creamy and delicious? Well folks, there is no dairy in it. No cream. No cheese. Nothing! If you check out the recipe you will see the creaminess comes from the avocado. Yes... my avocado that cost me 39 cents!

Don't be scared by the vegan label. I used to think all vegan recipes had tofu and were weird. I was wrong. We eat vegetarian atleast one day per week. I find meat to be over priced and very poor quality. This cuts down on the grocery bill and is good for our bodies too.

I did my bodyrock 30 day challenge workout this morning. It kicked my butt. I did the first portion in 28:39.2 and the ab portion with 17, 90, and 40 reps respectively.

Then I ate this:
I love homemade muffins! And kiwi... 3 for $1.


Local + workout

I am starting to settle into our new home. I have been busy organizing, making lists, and baking. So really, nothing has changed. If you know someone who wants to hire me to organize their life, I am ready!
Just a few fun updates. Or maybe things to make you jealous. Here is the sunset out of back door last night:

I have also been loving the produce down here. Mangoes - 2 for $1 and avocados... 39 cents each! I now realize that Edmonton has crazy grocery prices! I used to think it was normal... but not anymore.

I hit up our local coffee shop this morning after my hour walk around the lake. I cannot wait to take visitors there for yummy food, delish drinks, and a beautiful outdoor patio! My drink of choice today was a soy chai.

Here is a view of the lake I mentioned. My parents are going to love visiting so they can walk here too! I hope to improve my running endurance and run the perimeter soon. I've got some work to do in this area.

Speaking of working out. I have decided to do the BodyRock 30 day challenge that started yesterday! Want to join me? Its easy and free! Just go to their website, check out the daily workout, and kick your own butt in the comfort of your own home. This works perfectly for me since we do not have a gym membership yet. Also, I cannot use time as an excuse since its only 12 min per day (okay, and not working has given me some free time too).

Here are my fit test scores (in 50 seconds):
squat jumps - 33
pushups - 12
burpees - 10
high knees - 101
jump lunges - 20
tuck jumps - 17
tricep dips - 18
straight abs - 15

I'll let you know my new scores in 30 days. 

P.S. Notice the lack of house pictures? We still have no furniture... but we hope to fix that soon!


Weekend recap

 We had a very busy weekend! It was also very productive and we got to cross some things off our to-do list!

 We got a new car. We also got a free package of smoked sausage with our test drive at one Toyota dealership.  What's more fun? A new car or free meat?

I am still loving that I can order iced coffee at SB in the winter! Soo tasty!

I had the Mac n Cheese bites at CPK. Delish... and a great portion size for a savory treat.

I have been thinking about my garden and planting herbs... but then it poured! 

Time to get back to work. My to-do list is never ending.


The changes

 Things always change when you move. I have a doozie for you:

Goodbye straight Canadian hair... hello curly Southern USA hair. 

Other exciting changes: being able to shop at Whole Foods, getting iced coffee in the winter at Starbucks, & the wonderful amounts of fresh seafood everywhere!

Have a good weekend!



Welcome home

 After a long day of flying and an exceptionally pleasant time at customs, I made it! Seriously, they were very pleasant and I asked them more questions than they asked me... typical. It probably would have taken about 5 minutes but the 5 people ahead of me did not speak English. That was awkward at times.

 It was nice to make it so smoothly to Baton Rouge and have B there to greet me! My excess of luggage made it without any issues (okay, the box had seen better days) and it all fit in the rental car!

I spent the day yesterday unpacking all of our stuff. It was a very productive day.  Here is a quick shot of my fave corner of the house:

I love that I can display my Sophie dishes in an open cupboard for all to see!

Next on the list of things to do: buy a car, buy furniture, and hope it stops raining so I can do some work outside. Monsoon rains yesterday flooded 1/4 of the backyard and it soaked in already. I'll have to get used to the heavy rain... thank goodness for FaceTime and besties to keep me company during the storm!

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