Long time, no blog

I hadn’t planned on going totally MIA over the holidays, but things were a bit chaotic and there wasn’t much time to get online!

Brief re-cap…

Wednesday: Left work early so I could hit the gym and go home to pack. Arrived at MIL’s (well, future MIL) house just after dinnertime. M and his brother had friends over, so socialized with them, played some drinking games (note: not advisable with red wine… just sayin’) and I had a fairly early night while M went out to the bar around midnight for a couple of hours.

Thursday: Celebrated Christmas a day early with M’s family and then had turkey dinner. Completely overate, felt like a blob.  Furthered the blob cause by eating some kind of custard pie prepared by SIL that was tasty, but not at all necessary. If it’s not apparent by now, I fell- or maybe leapt- off of the healthy eating wagon over the holidays.

Friday: Headed to my parents’ place which is about 3 hours away. We brought kitty with us in his softsided carrier and he was a trooper, save for the last 15 minutes or so when he started mewling. He’s an experienced roadtripper at only 6 months of age (actually, I think he turned 6 months on boxing day; the shelter said his birthday was June 26th!). Went for Chinese food with some extended family. The food was delicious but a bit greasy since we had ginger beef, chicken chow mein etc. Also had sizzling tomato beef over rice, baby broccoli, wonton soup, some kind of pea greens(?) and a great French white wine. [As you can tell, this re-cap involves a lot of wine].

Saturday: Had a lazy day in at my parents’. I did squeeze in a weights workout which was a triumph. Watched Extract which was so-so, not as funny as I had hoped. For some reason, was exhausted and crashed around 3pm for a 2-hour nap. I never nap – so strange! My parents made paella with crab and clams which may have been the highlight of 2009. It was amazing. I really should have taken a picture since it’s astonishing that only 4 people polished off the quantity of food that we had. Then we broke into the bottle of Taylor Fladgate 10-year Port that my mom received from M’s family. Also delish. I love port. We then watched Beyond a Reasonable Doubt which was pretty cheesy; the plot itself wasn’t bad, but I can’t say the same for the acting (sorry, Amber Tamblyn!)

Sunday: Another lazy day at my parents’. I love just being able to hang out and watch movies all day – it’s something we rarely have the opportunity to do. Watched State of Play which I really enjoyed. Oh and we met my best friend and her boyfriend  for a quick drink to exchange presents. This also involved a beerlini (raspberry ale + bellini slush + fresh raspberries) and some loaded nachos since at this point I figured, hell, it’s a lost cause. My mom made a big organic roast and roasted root vegetables for dinner. and we also had a delicious French red wine. Wish I had the names of all the different wines that we tried but they were all new to me since my parents received them as a gift (I suppose they still have the empty bottles for recycling). It was unusual that we had so much French wine; usually we stick to a few tried & true inexpensive (some might say cheap – tomato, tomahto) wines, primarily Australian and Canadian.

Monday: Packed up kitty and all of our gifts, then headed back home. M unpacked all of our stuff while I went to the gym and the grocery store. Being in another city, I miss my parents a lot but it did feel good to be home! I am a major creature of habit and I get a bit discombobulated when I am away from home and out of my regular routine. The grocery store had fresh perch at a decent price, which piqued my interest. Fish/seafood that hasn’t been previously frozen is hard to come by here and is often very expensive. Turns out, the perch was delicious. I pan-fried it with some butter, dill, salt and pepper and had it with asparagus and brown rice. Even the non-fish-eating fiance said it smelled so good that he willingly tried it (if you knew him, you’d know how big of a deal that is) and even- gasp- liked it.

Overall, a great Christmas! My parents swear that they will be in Hawaii or somewhere else warm next year for Christmas. I don’t know if we would join them since we might take our honeymoon in early December (finances and other factors depending).

Oh and I did get totally spoiled, as did M. I’m an only child, he only has one brother and thus far, there are no children in either family (which is actually a shame, I think Christmas is more fun and magical with kids around!). This leaves only us for the parents to spoil – and they did. Mostly, I got tons of gift certificates which I know some might say defeats the purpose of giving but I don’t care! Money is a bit tight with trying to save for the wedding so the gift of shopping  is the perfect gift indeed.

Now I am back at work for a three-day workweek which is a nice way to ease back in. Also trying to make preparations for our New Year’s Eve bash. Trying to figure out crowd-pleasing appetizers that are both man-friendly (mostly for M’s sake) while still impressive… These bacon cheddar stuffed mushrooms are a strong contender, but I am still going to peruse the web while at work (shh) for additional ideas.

wedding dress + miscellany

Sagrera, originally uploaded by vanityandsanity.

I thought I would share a pic of my wedding dress. It’s a Pronovias by Manuel Mota and the style is called Sagrera. True to what ‘they’ say, it was the first dress I tried on. Isn’t that funny? I actually went looking two additional times and tried on probably about 20 dresses in total, but this was by far my favourite. I apologize for the lighting– I don’t know why everything looks so yellow! The dress is an off-white, not even full-on ivory.

This is the sample and it was about 4 sizes too large; if it looks like it’s pulling in the front, that’s because it’s pinned in the back by million clips. The real deal should fit much better when it arrives sometime this spring.

Besides the wedding dress, I’ve been a bit of a wedding slacker. We have a reception booked, photographers and… uh… that’s it. I haven’t even found a ceremony site yet! Starting to get a bit panicked about that one. We still have just under 9 months, but things book up quickly.

Rumor has it that they are going to send us home early from work. I’m happy about that since it will give me time to go to the gym and then pack (of course I couldn’t possibly have done that earlier in the week). Tonight we’re off to visit M’s family, then my family on Christmas Day. It’s our annual tour of the province, as I like to say. We’re packing up kitty and bringing him along in his little carrier; he is quite the experienced roadtripper already.

Foodie highlights of the trip include turkey dinner tomorrow night, going out for Chinese food Christmas Day, and having paella at my parents’ house (including tons and tons of delicious crab legs) on Boxing Day. I’ll try to actually take some photos to document all of the indulgence!

I’m also looking forward to visiting with friends and family. Since I moved to M’s city, I don’t get to see some of them as often as I’d like. It’s sure to be a jam-packed couple of days.

recipe: butter tart deliciousness

snacky, originally uploaded by vanityandsanity.

Butter tart is on the bottom right; shortbread on the bottom left and, of course, Timmy Ho’s is at the top. 

They are rich, sweet and totally sinful! A must for the holidays.

Ingredients:

  • 12 tart shells (I use premade; you can make your own from scratch if you wish)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup seedless raisins
  • 75 ml (1/3 cup) melted butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 25 ml (1 tsp) cream
  • 5 ml vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Soak raisins in small amount of water- just enough to moisten- and place in microwave for one minute on high. This is a ‘family secret’ passed down from my grandmother to my mother and now to me. It softens the raisins and makes the tarts even better.
  3. Combine ingredients one at a time
  4. Fill tart shells one half full
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until nicely browned

Wait until they are completely cool before devouring. Or, you may freeze them, separating each layer with some wax paper; they keep for a couple of weeks.

Be forewarned that if you share these, people may beg you for them annually!

Next time we make these, I think I might try soaking the raisins in rum instead of water. I think it could add a nice zing.

A confession

I deviated from the plan that I posted yesterday. Instead, I started The Female Body Breakthrough. I had planned to wait and start fresh after the new year. But, fitness nerd that I am, I got too excited (impatient).

Lemme just say, the warm-ups alone had me short of breath! I’m notorious for skimping on warming up. Warm-up sets, I can manage, but I am shamefully lazy when it comes to dynamic work. Never again! I really did feel like this prepped my body for lifting. And those inchworms were a workout in and of themselves.

I’ll report back when I’ve finished the entire program, of course. But so far, so good.

Another thing I’m loving lately is Bob’s Red Mill Scottish Oatmeal. I think I might even prefer it to steel-cut oats.

I’m a little tired today, sleep wasn’t the best; M went to his mother’s (out of town) and ended up staying due to the weather. I’m a big wimp and I hate being alone in our house. The tiniest noise has me convinced that someone has broken in to our basement and is waiting to come get me. I know, it’s pathetic. I did live on my own at one point, but it was in an apartment; something about an empty house is somehow much scarier.

I can’t believe Christmas is right around the corner! It doesn’t feel like it. Usually, I love Christmas but this year, I’ve had a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit. Maybe I’ll crank some Christmas tunes on Sirius while I’m at work (through headphones, of course; I’m not that coworker) and see if that helps.

Weekly planning

After a weekend of overindulgence, I went to bed early last night. Monday really helps set the tone for the week and I was determined to start off on a positive note. Woke up early this morning, which is nice since I hate being rushed before work. Used my GoLite while eating breakfast [irish oatmeal with berries; 1 whole hardboiled egg & 1 hardboiled eggwhite; jasmine green tea], which did seem to help perk me up. 

Being so far north, the GoLite is a big help at this time of year. Considering the sunrise is after 8am today and the sunset is before 4:30pm, the lack of natural light becomes very tiresome. At least today’s the shortest day of the year; it can only improve from here on out.

It’s actually rather amazing that I did wake up so easily this morning. Between the fiance and the kitten, it’s a wonder I get any sleep at all. You see, M sleep-talks. And occasionally sleepwalks. Last night’s antics consisted of him sitting up in bed just before 2am and fumbling with the lamp. Confused, I woke up and asked him what he was doing. Once I realized he was asleep, I tried to reassure him and get him to go back to bed. He responded by insisting that what he was doing did, in fact, make sense, and then ‘handed’ me the “video game cords”.

He’s totally coherent when he does it, which is a little eerie; we can have a full-blown conversation, but he won’t make any sense. I don’t mind the sleep-talking aspect of it so much, but the sleepwalking makes me a bit nervous. Sometimes I worry (me, worry? shocking!) he’ll hurt himself, but I have heard/read that sleepwalkers tend to have some built-in mechanism that usually prevents that.

Monday: 45 min Hatha yoga
Tuesday: 45 min elliptical intervals
Wednesday: 45 min lunchtime spin, full-body weights after work
Thursday: Rest day #1 (visiting fiance’s fam = no gym access. It’s far too cold/snowy to do anything outdoors, either.)
Friday: 20-25 min HIIT sprints on treadmill
Saturday: Some kind of class at my mom’s gym (Bodypump or similar)
Sunday: Rest day #2

Drinking Tetley blueberry green tea right now and it… is not good. The flavour is just really fake. I hate to waste things, but I might toss the remaining 3/4 of the package.

Birthday recap + other weekend activities

Had a fabulous, if lazy, birthday yesterday. Seems I enjoy my birthdays more when I don’t have crazy high expectations. Especially given the somewhat inconvenient timing of my birthday; 6 days before Christmas, people tend to be out of town, entertaining visitors of their own, off on a tropical getaway, or flat-out broke from holiday festivities. Thus, I decided to spend the day with the ones who matter most:  the fiance and the fam!

Woke up early and hit the gym for full-body weights, followed by a massage. The weights were much-needed since I’ve been slacking in favour of cardio and Ashtanga. I’m a bit sore today, but in a good way. It’s twisted, but I kind of enjoy delayed-onset-muscle-soreness (aka DOMS)– even though I know it`s not an accurate indicator of workout efficacy. I did notice that my focus was much better than usual, probably due to so much yoga. Rather than focusing on ‘repping it out’ and getting in & out of the gym, I was able to concentrate on each rep and how it felt. Good stuff.

Then, dinner with the fam. Dinner was amazing. I ate a ton. Between the three of us (as I mentioned previously, fiance is not an adventurous diner), we had: miso, soba noodles, california rolls, spider rolls, agedadhi tofu, the most melt-in-your-mouth tuna sashimi, salmon sashimi and tamago sushi. The fiance had beef meatballs as an app, then sesame beef with rice and veg. I also may or may not have had some of the fiance’s food too.

This was followed by Inglorious Basterds, which was surprisingly entertaining. The trailers made it look a bit iffy, but it was much better than Star Trek, which we pay-per-viewed on Friday night.

Today was a rest day and consisted of Christmas Celebration #1. Visited with my father`s side of the family, who the fiance happens to be friends with as well. This includes my two male cousins who are basically like brothers to me (being an only child, it`s the closest thing I have). They both have adorable baby boys– 9 and 11 months, respectively.

I must confess to having a touch of baby fever. I can`t wait to have kids. I`ve felt my biological clock ticking for about 5 years now and it has not subsided with time. Although our kitten thinks he`s a baby, it`s just not quite the same. The fiance has a lot of children on his side of the family too, so for the time being, we get to visit and occasionally babysit… But I can`t wait to have our own someday. Once we are settled in the new house and- of course- married, then we’re going to re-evaluate and go from there.

Tonight’s agenda: laundry, cooking dinner, prepping breakfast for the week and other productivity. Dinner will be taco-flavoured chicken breasts, corn, roasted cauliflower and broccoli (love roasting cruciferous veg) for me and potatoes for fiance. Was going to go grocery shopping but opted not to since we’ll be leaving mid-week to visit family. Instead, I will try to be creative and use up what we have (even if that means resorting to the frozen veggies in the freezer that I generally ignore).