Wednesday, January 30, 2013

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Recipe // Homemade Spaghetti Sauce.

Jo-Anna from A Pretty Life posted this recipe on her blog at the beginning of the month. I am a huge fan of spaghetti and meat sauce, so the moment I saw the below image of her sauce, I immediately had to bookmark and try this recipe for dinner one night...!


1 to 2 lbs lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 – 14 oz can tomato sauce (plain, no spices)
1 – 19 oz can diced tomatoes (plain, no spices)
1 – 5.5 oz can tomato paste
½ cup red wine (or beef broth if you don’t want to use wine)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
salt & fresh ground pepper to taste


1. In a large frying pan, brown the beef with the onions and garlic. When the beef is cooked through, drain it, then return to the pan. 

2. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, wine, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, oregano, basil and salt & pepper. Simmer for about 1 hour, covered.

For some additional recipe notes/suggestions, head on over to Jo-Anna's blog here.

To be honest, tonight's dinner was a toss up between beef stroganoff or spaghetti. Spaghetti won, of course. I wasn't planing on trying this recipe tonight, but I goofed when opening a can of tomato sauce (diced tomatoes instead of crushed). Thankfully I remembered that this recipe used both diced and crushed tomatoes, so I decided to give it a go. The sauce still has 20 more minutes to simmer, but so far, it tastes AMAZING! ... I may be sneaking a taste of this sauce every 10 minutes while it simmers ... I cant' wait to eat dinner tonight.

Do you have a favorite homemade spaghetti sauce recipe?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Free Social Media Icons.

This past weekend I was searching high and low for some social media icons; I found lots, but none that had all the icons I wanted.

Then I somehow stumbled upon Carrie Loves blog. If you haven't visit her blog before, I highly recommend that you start following her ASAP because her blog, and her designs, are truly incredible! Not only are her social media icons AMAZING and FREE, but they come in 30 different colors. 

To download these free social media icons, head on over to her blog, here. Don't forget to leave a comment on her blog thanking her for them. Enjoy!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sunday Social.

1. What is your ideal way to relax?

Climb into my sweat pants, cuddle up with my fleece blanket and watch television.

2. Where is your favorite place to be?

At home, with my boyfriend. A sunny, hot beach would be swell too!

3. Who do you consider your biggest roll model?

I would have to say my mom. At a young age, my parents split up and I lived primarily with my mom. Even though my dad was in my life a lot, my mom did a lot for us. She is an amazing person and everybody I know has nothing but great things to say about her.

4. What does your life look like in 3 years? 

Better job, and maybe engaged, or even married to the love of my life (this summer, we will have been together for 6 years!!).

5. If you could go back and change one decision what would it be? 

Probably choosing to stick with a job that I was comfortable and paid well while going to university; I wish I had put myself out there more, made more contacts, and maybe today, I would have a better paying job.

6. What is your biggest accomplishment in life thus far?

Graduating university with a 4-year business degree. 

This Week for Dinner.

I love leftovers because it means we don't have to cook as much during the week, but sometimes I wish we didn't make as much so that we could have more variety during the week. However, that would mean I would have to spend more time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning. Anyways, our dinner theme for this week is  homemade pizza...!

And lots of it. We bought some pizza yeast awhile back, forgot about it, and now have to use it up before the expiry date. Thankfully we both love pizza!

+ Monday: Leftovers: Beef tacos, & nachos

+ Tuesday: Leftovers: Roast beef, yorkshire pudding & roast potatoes

+ Wednesday: Homemade pizza

+ Thursday: Nachos & homemade pizza

+ Friday: Homemade pizza & caesar salad

+ Saturday: Leftovers: homemade pizza & caesar salad

+ Sunday: Spiced Pork Shoulder & mashed potatoes. Recipe here

Recipe // Boneless Pork Shoulder.

1 boneless pork shoulder roast, about 4 to 5 pounds
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp galic powder
3 tsp curry powder
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 tbsp canola oil, divided
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced


1. Leave the netting on the roast or take it off and tie with twine. 

2. Combine the soy sauce, garlic powder, curry powder, ginger, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and 1 tablespoon of the oil. 

3. Rub the roast all over with the spice mixture. 

4. Put 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet and cook the onions over medium-high heat until lightly browned and softened. Remove and set aside. 

5. Sear the roast in the pan on all sides, about 7 to 10 minutes in all. Put the pork roast in a 4 to 6-quart slow cooker along with the onions. Cover and cook on LOW for about 8 hours, until very tender.

We've had a pork shoulder roast sitting in the freezer for a few months now and I have finally found a recipe that I want to try on Sunday. I found this recipe from Southern Food website; there are no reviews on it, so I hope it tastes okay. We also plan to make some mashed potatoes and cooked vegetables to go with it. I am making myself hungry just thinking about it! 

Have you ever cooked a pork shoulder in the slow cooker before? Any good recipes? 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Why I am Sleeping More.

It's quite simple, two reasons...

1. Eight plus hours of sleeps makes me a much happier, and energetic person. It only took me 29 years to come to this realization. Better late than never!

Prior to Christmas holiday's, I was beyond exhausted. I work two jobs, six days/week, plus I am the primary grocery shopper, cooker and cleaner around our apartment. So I guess you could say I technically work three jobs. When I get home from work each day, my normal routine includes sitting on my laptop blogging or browsing the internet, watching television, and cooking dinner. As a result, it was really easy for me to stay up until 1 or 2 am, and only get maybe 6 hours of sleep per night.  

For 2013, I promised myself that I would start taking better care of myself. That included changing my sleeping habits because I didn't like how tired I always was. Plus, I began noticing that I was becoming more and more unhappy, and angry. Things had to change ASAP because I didn't like this person I was turning into.

To achieve more sleep, I have started shutting the television and computer off much earlier in the evening. For example, if I need to wake up at 7:30 am, I shut everything off at 10:00 pm, get ready for bed and read a few pages of my new book before falling asleep for the night. Since starting this new bedtime routine at the beginning of January, I am feeling so much better. No only am I more energetic during the days, but I am a much happier and less angry. 

On a side note, every night, I make sure that I only drank water after 8:00 pm. I find that by doing this, my bladder doesn't keep me up late at night. 

2. Not getting enough sleep can make you fat. Sounds crazy, but it makes sense! 

I found this article today on the Women's Health website about how researches at the University of Chicago have found a strong connection between sleep and your metabolism. The following blurb is from the article.

"How Sleep Affects Fat The authors found that sleep deprivation made fat cells less sensitive to insulin, a hormone that cells use to take in glucose for energy. Brady explains that insulin-stimulated glucose uptake is proportional to the secretion of leptin, a hormone made in the fat cell that regulates hunger. The less sensitive cells are to insulin, the less leptin they produce, and the hungrier you are. And the magnitude of the decrease in this case was very surprising."

To read the full article, head on over to the Women's Health website here. What do you think? Would you change your sleeping habits to improve your health?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Recipe // Margherita Pizza.


1 pound pizza dough, storebought or homemade
1 pound (2 large) ripe summer tomatoes or 1 16-oz can whole or diced tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup loosely packed basil, sliced into ribbons
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced
Salt and pepper


1. Heat the oven to 550°F or as hot as it can go. 

2. Place a baking stone or baking sheet in the oven as it heats. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into 10" rounds. Set aside. 

3. Cut the tomatoes into wedges and trim away the stem area. Gently squeeze the wedges over a bowl to remove the excess juices and seeds. 

4. Combine the tomatoes with the garlic and half of the basil in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until the tomatoes break down into a sauce, scraping down the sides as needed. If desired, strain to make a thicker sauce. 

5. Spread a light layer of the sauce over one of the rounds of pizza. 

6. Top with half of the slices of mozzarella. Leave some space between the pieces of mozzarella. 

7. Transfer the pizzas to the preheated baking stone or baking sheet. 

8. Bake for 5-10 minutes—exact cooking time will vary depending on your oven temperature. 

9. Pizzas are finished when the crust is deep brown with charred spots and the cheese is bubbling. 

10. Top and bake the second pizza. 

11. Sprinkle each pizza with basil as it comes out of the oven. 

12. Let them cool briefly before slicing and serving.

I love pizza, but I especially love homemade pizza. Ever since I found this recipe from the kitchn website, I am hooked. Lately, I have been adding a little bit of extra virgin olive oil on top of the tomato sauce, and trying different types of cheese, along with mozza cheese. We've also been using a 50-50 mixture of white and whole wheat flour when making the pizza dough.

What's your favorite homemade pizza recipe? We have a lot of pizza yeast that we need to use up ASAP, so we will be eating a lot of pizza's over the next few weeks!

Friday, January 18, 2013

This Week for Dinner.

Since returning from our holidays, I have been wanting to try a bunch of new/healthier recipes for dinner. However, it's been quite tough finding the time to sit down and plan it all out because we're still really busy trying to clean/organize the apartment. Today, I finally sat down and figured out what I want to cook next week, so we finally made a trip to the SuperStore to buy $175.00 worth of groceries.

I have also decided that it would be kind of fun to start blogging our weekly menu(s) so that I can share some of these great new recipes that I have found, but also so that I can easily keep track of what I am eating, etc. 

 So, here's our menu for our dinners this week...

+ Monday: Butter chicken. Recipe here

+ Tuesday: Dine out: Sushi

+ Wednesday: Leftovers: Butter chicken & caesar salad

+ Thursday: Leftovers: Butter chicken

+ Friday: Beef Tacos & caesar salad

+ Saturday: Dinner at my mom's: Roast beef, yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes & salad

+ Sunday: Homemade Pizza Margherita & caesar salad. Recipe here

What's your menu for the week? I love discovering new recipes! 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How to Kick Your Caffeine Habit.

I love coca cola, it is my number one drink of choice. I hate to admit it, but I would pick a glass of coke over a glass of wine, or any other alcoholic beverage. Am I crazy? Maybe.

I am fully aware that drinking coke on a daily basis isn't great for my health; if it wasn't for the fact that I am addicted to it, I probably wouldn't consume as much as I do. On an average day, I have one can. That's all. Sometimes, if I am really tired and run down, I will have maybe two. Either way, if I don't have at least one glass, or a few sips of a can, I get these horrible headaches. And when I get these headaches, I am not a happy person to be around.

Because my priority for 2013 is to improve my health and to be a happier person, I have to find a way to kick my caffeine habit without driving myself and everyone around me crazy. From what I have heard/read, there are generally two ways to cut caffeine out of your daily routine: (1) to stop cold turkey or (2) to decrease your consumption gradually over a few days, etc.

Option one is not a possibility, so that means I have to start consuming less and less. This past week, I have made a conscious effort to drink less coca cola by sharing one can of coke with my boyfriend per day. There have been one or two days this past week and a bit where we have had our own cans, but only once or twice. I have also started drinking more water, cranberry juice and milk. 

I also found the following five tips from the MindBodyGreen website on how to kick your caffeine habit for good.

1. Start on your day off.
2. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.
3. Drink herbal tea.
4. Get your body moving - go to the gym, go for a walk, etc.
5. Grain alternatives.

For me, numbers 2, 3 and 4 are fantastic solutions to try as I work on this new lifestyle. I'm not a huge water fan, but I am learning to drink it more regularly. I also love green tea, mmmm! And exercise is part of my new years priorities -- I haven't been very successful in this dept yet. Unfortunately, as I write this post, thinking about coke, I have a pounding headache....! Anyways, to read more about how to kick your caffeine habit, head over to the full article here.

How have you kicked your caffeine habit? 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Years Priorities: Update #1.

My number priority for 2013 is my health and fitness. This week I haven't had much, if any, luck with the fitness (I have good reasons), but I have been starting to change what I consume. A little less coca cola, and a little more water, juice and milk. One step at a time, right?!

On Tuesday I went to the Chiropractor and it was messy. My poor bones did not take well to the cold, cold temperatures in Alberta, the awkward sleeping positions (I had a mole removed on my left side just prior to leaving, big mistake because it hurt for 2 weeks and I couldn't sleep on my left side), or all the sneezing from my allergies; and they especially did not take well to the heavy luggage I carried to/from the airport. Once he fixed me all up, I immediately felt better. Unfortunately, by the evening, my muscles were angry. They still are angry and I have had these horrible headaches ever since. 

I had full intentions to start 10 minutes of cardio each day this week, but I thought I better let my body rest so (a) I don't undo what the Chiropractor did and (b) I really don't want to aggravate my muscles any more. Because of my neuralgia in my face, if the muscles in my neck/shoulders become irritated, etc, the neuralgia flairs up. To help motivate myself for next week, I bought myself two new work-out t-shirts from Winners. Both Puma and both bright colors! 

As far as my second priority goes, I bought a new book that I am looking forward to reading... The Happiness Project! I have heard a lot of great things about this book, so I am quite hopeful that it will be a great start to being more positive (and happy!). 

How are your New Years Resolutions/Goals/Priorities coming along?

What I'm Watching.

While on holiday's, my boyfriend introduced me to Downtown Abbey. I have to admit, when I first heard the show's name I was skeptical. But after watching the first episode, I was hooked - actually, we all were hooked (me, my boyfriend and his parents). This show is amazing! The fourth season isn't starting until September, so you have some time to catch up on the first three seasons (they are fairly short). 

Have you watched this show before?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


I'm baaaccckkk! 

Where have the past few weeks gone? Seriously? My birthday was on the 19th and then we headed off to Alberta on the 23rd to spend the holiday's with my boyfriends family. While on our two-week vacation, I had full intentions to blog every day... unfortunately, it didn't work out quite as planned. I missed spending Christmas with my family, but really enjoyed spending the time with my boyfriend and his family.

We flew back home on the 5th and I have been non-stop busy every since. Laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, putting away Christmas decorations (which we finally finished this evening) ... the list goes on. It honestly feels like our two-week vacation was all a dream because I am already exhausted and ready for the weekend.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone! 

I cannot believe 2012 has come and gone, and that its now January 1, 2013. I'm looking forward to see what this year has in store. Rather than making all these wonderful resolutions this year, I have decided to make only a few priorities for twenty-thirteen.

1. Health & Fitness. For me, these two go hand in hand. My health isn't horrible, but its not great either. This year, I don't want to keep spending all this money on medicine, massage therapy or the chiropractor just to keep my nerves, bones and muscles happy. I know this won't happen over night, but I hope that over the next year to become less dependent on them; this means I need to exercise regularly. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I am still young and its not too late to correct my bad posture, etc. I also would like to learn to cook and eat healthier. I cannot do the whole diet thing, but I can make better choices in some of the foods we consume. 

On a side note, my boyfriends brother is also getting married in August, so I would really love to be in better shape for when I have to fit into a dress. 

2. Being more positive, outgoing & happier. I am not the most outgoing person. I can be when I am comfortable around people, but I can also be very shy when I am around people I do not know very well. Some people take my shyness as being bitchy. If somebody says something that I do not like, I tend to close myself off, shut down and take things too personally. From there, my attitude often becomes negative. 

Last night, for example, comments were made about me drinking soda pop. I love coke, its my one bad habit. On an average day, I only drink one per day. Sometimes I will drink two. I don't smoke, I don't drink coffee, I rarely drink alcohol, I don't normally consume lots of junk food, and I don't do drugs. While one holidays, and on NYE, I didn't appreciate the comments and it really put me into a funk for the majority of the evening. I would like to better learn to brush those things off my shoulders. 

3. Live life. D & I are quiet people. We don't feel the constant need to go out and party, etc. I am quite content staying at home, cooking a nice meal and watching tv or a movie together. A lot of people don't understand that. I don't want to change who I am, but I would also like for us both to go outside and explore more (and take more photos!).

I would also like to get over this lame fear of driving that I have. I hate driving to places I am not familiar with. Not knowing which lane I need to be in or where exactly I am headed make me very nervous. I'm not sure what made me this way, but I would like to find a way to get over it. I think splurging and buying a GPS unit may help, I'm not sure.

4. Tap into the right-side of my brain. I really want to spend some time tapping into my creativity. Its' been so long that I worry there is none in me. Maybe it means taking more photos and spending time to edit them and make them look wonderful, or maybe it means re-doing my blog design and making more out of my blog, which I would really love to do. Since I haven't a clue where or how to start, I think the hard part will be figuring out how to tap into the right-side of my brain...!

Well, these are my four main priorities for 2013. I think they will all keep me quite busy for the next 12 months. What are your priorities for 2013?