July 30, 2015

five [amazing] homemade cleaning products

as i get older, i find i am drawn to more natural, "green" habits.  cleaning is one area that i have really noticed this shift in attitude.  i like the idea of a more natural, less chemical & harmful, cleaning solution.

i've rounded up a list of some of my favourite cleaning recipes.  many of the ingrenients are the same: baking soda, vinegar, rubbing alcohol, & essential oils.   ingredients found in your very own kitchen!

[citrus cleaner] i found this recipe on apartment theraphy a few years ago, and it is officially my favourite recipe to make stainless steel appliances and sink fauces sparkle.

(image from apartment theraphy)

[vinegar & water] this classic really goes a long way. i use it for just about everything.  to make a bottle, combine 1 cup of water with 1 cup of vinegar into a spray bottle.

[baking soda carpet cleaner]  baking soda is the best carpet cleaner & deodorizer that i have found. this does wonders on tough stains, removes any odours, and is so simple to use.  to use baking soda on your carpet, sprinkle the stained spot with the soda.  let it sit on the carpet (undisturbed) for 30 minutes.  vacuum.  voila, clean carpets.

(image from amazon.ca)

[rubbing alcohol] this stuff is great for cleaning electronics.  to clean my phone, i remove my phone case, put a bit of alcohol on a cotton ball (just making it slightly damp, you don't want to soak it) & gently wipe down the phone.  i also use rubbing alcohol to clean our laptop, on the keyboard and on the screen. 

[all-natural floor cleaner] i wont lie, i'm addicted to this website.  there are so many good recipes on it.  this floor cleaner is one of them!  i've tried my fair share of floor cleaners in the past, & many left streaks. but not this one.  it leaves my floors looking beautiful, & the essential oils give it a nice scent.

(image from hello natural)

have a great homemade cleaning recipe? i'd love to hear about it!  happy cleaning.

July 27, 2015

hiking the scarborough bluffs

one thing i really wanted to accomplish this summer was to spend some serious time exploring the city i live in (toronto).  we've lived here for over 5 years & i'm ashamed to say i have seen very little of the city.  i often forget just how much this city has to offer.

one amazing gem, located on the east end of the city, are the scarborough bluffs.  a few weeks ago we went out to do some hiking, walking, exploring, picnicing & relaxing.  it was a beautiful, sunny day.  we could not have asked for better weather.

finding information on the parks was a bit of a challenge.  so we thought we'd share a few things to help you plan a trip to the bluffs:

- the park is accessible by ttc (woot!). you can take the subway to kennedy, and take the #12 bus down (exit the bus at kingston road (at brimley) & continue walking down the road).  you can also exit at either warden or victoria park subway & take the #12 bus as well (this option is a little bit longer).

-  there are a few different parks, all relatively close to each other.  scarborough bluffs park offers some incredible views of the top of the bluffs. bluffers park has the marina, yacht club, and a beautiful walkway that has some great views of the bluffs along the water.  cathedral bluffs has the beach (at the bottom) and some hiking trails above.

- if you want to do a lot of exploring along the top of the bluffs, good shoes are a must.  the bluffs is a fairly large area, so expect to do a lot of walking.

- this is a great park to have a picnic at.  all along the water are bbq pits and lots of grass to toss a blanket.

we had such a great day!
if you've been to the bluffs and have recommendations on things in the area worth checking out, let us know.

July 23, 2015

minty moscow mule

our mint is growing like crazy this year, and all i want to do is make fun cocktails with it.  i recently discovered a moscow mule (love!) and thought a hint of minty freshness would be a nice touch.

minty moscow mule
serves one

[you will need]
8-10 mint leaves
1 oz lime juice
lime slices
2 oz vodka
ginger ale (or ginger beer)

[to make]
in a glass muddle together mint leaves, lime juice and vodka.  fill the glass with ice.  top with ginger ale.  garnish with limes, squeezing the juice out if you like.  stir. enjoy!

July 20, 2015

my first [running] race & tips for new runners

i ran my first race the other day!  i did a moderate 5km with a good friend, & b ran his first 10k.  i am not a strong runner, so this was a big achievement for me.  and, to be honest, it felt good!

if you want to start running, here are a few tips to get you started:

- good shoes make all the difference.  they don't need to be expensive or fancy, just comfortable & supportive. if you visit your local running shop, most do gait analysis so they can find the best shoe for you.

- the fancy clothes and tools are nice, but not required.  sure, they help. but it's probably not worth investing that much money until you know that running is something that you love.

- stay hydrated, but don't drink too much water.  of course you should drink some water if you are thirsty, but don't overdo it. too much water can give you a stitch (cramp) in your side.

- really focus on your breathing.  the best tip i read on this was to take deep belly breathes. to make this easier for myself, i inhale for 4 "steps", and then exhale for 4.

- walking breaks are ok.  i still cannot run continuously so i do intervals, and i'm ok with that!  i started off doing 30 seconds of running & 90 seconds of walking, and slowly increased the running while decreasing the walking.

- find a pace that you are comfortable with.  everyone runs at different speeds.  slower doesn't mean you are worse, or any less of a runner.  finding a pace you are comfortable with will allow you to run further & find the activity more enjoyable.

- find your motivation.  is there a race you've always wanted to do?  sign up! having a deadline may help get you out & running.  i found a fun run was the perfect intro to running a race.  there was a lot less pressure to perform well & more of a focus on having a good time.

- if you don't like running alone, look into some of the free running groups that exist.  the running room offers a free run club that hosts group runs on wednesdays & sundays. or find a running buddy. they keep you going when you just feel like sitting on the couch.

- having trouble finding the motivation to get out running? find a postcast or a wicked play list that you only listen to when running (& stick to only listening when you run).  wanting to hear more will motivate you to get outside & run.

but most importantly, have fun with it. don't measure yourself against others & don't put too much pressure on yourself. find what is comfortable & enjoy the run!

July 16, 2015

flash mob

last month b & i participated in a flash mob.  i'm so excited that the official video (see below) is finally complete - it was so much fun!

this year was the 5th year that canada's national ballet school ran the sharing dance program.  the routine, choreographed by gadfly, was over 4 minutes long and set to kiesza's "hideaway".

we trained for this for over 4 months, & i could not be more proud of how we performed.  neither of us had ever done anything like this before. it was such an amazing experience!  if you have the chance to participate in one, i definitely recommend it!

(image from sharing dance)

check out how awesome everyone looks here:

(video from the sharing dance youtube channel)

July 13, 2015

st. jacobs

i fell so in love with this cute little town when we went a few weekends ago.  beautiful homes, friendly people, adorable shops, and little stands selling fruit, veggies & flowers.  b had to drag me away!

one of the best things about st. jacobs - it's the perfect day trip from the city.  

here are a some things we did:

[st. jacobs market] this market is huge!  not only does it have fruits, veggies, meats and cheeses, but also flowers & plants, baked goods, clothing, jewelry, antiques, furniture, and a flea market.  you can find just about anything here.

[antique market]  there are loads of antique markets in st. jacobs.  the downtown strip has a few, but my favourite was the st. jacob's antique market.  voted number one by the waterloo region, it is located just next to the market. 

[explore the town] downtown st. jacobs is so cute.  cafes, restaurants, specialty food stores, and shops line the downtown strip.  

[beer sampling at block 3 brewing company]  wherever we go, b does some research into the beer scene. i was surprised when he said st. jacob's had it's own brewery.  so of course we stopped in.  this place had an awesome atmosphere (records playing good music & board games to play), friendly staff, and a variety of great craft beers.

[exploring the country farms] this is the best place to get produce.  little fruits & veggie stands are everywhere.  this is the produce actually grown on the farms in the area.  some larger farms also have little shops. 

July 09, 2015

[vegan] cherry & brown sugar muffins

it's no lie, i love summer.  all this delicious produce, farmer's markets, camping, patio's, bbq's.  it's-the-best!

while checking out a farmer's market just down the street from us, i picked up my cherries of the season.  i wanted to make something super yummy to celebrate.

[vegan] cherry & brown sugar muffins, with pecans
makes 12 muffins

adapted from the better homes and gardens new cook book basic muffin recipe

[what you need]
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon flax seed with 3 tablespoons water)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup cherries, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

[to make]

preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  lightly grease the a 12 cup muffin tin, or line with paper cups.

to make the flax egg, combine 1 tablespoon flax seed & 3 tablespoons water, mix together.

in a bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  make a well in the centre.

in another bowl, combine flax egg, almond milk, vanilla extract and coconut oil.  add the wet ingredients to the to the flour mixture all at once.  stir until just combined.  the batter should be lumpy.  then fold in the cherries & pecans.

fill the muffin cups until they are about two-thirds full.  sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar on top, patting it down to stick.  bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

let the muffins cool in the muffin pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove & place on a cooling rack to cool completely.