Tuesday, December 16

Weekend Things

This past weekend we tromped out in the cold once more to take in The Festival of Lights at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. We got to see all kinds of creatures out and about including the snow leopard and some beautiful Arctic Wolves looking quite like they belonged in all that snow. There was a lot more to do then at the Devonian Gardens last weekend including many many light displays, a lighted maze and this gorgeous 'Enchanted Tree'.

Saturday we spent with friends, eating pizza and seeing  the movie Big Hero Six. Very cute, I especially recommend it for those with kids. It does deal with some heavy emotional stuff surrounding the death of a loved one, but these are important conversations to have. Funnily, my friend at work took his four year old and she loved it. He was all set to have the death talk with her and she didn't even really pick up on that stuff. Talk averted for a little while.

I, unsurprisingly, spent my spare time Sunday baking my favorite bagels and some spice cake doughnuts with maple glaze for our Sunday night dessert. Man, doughnut pans can be finicky. Last time I made this recipe it made seven doughnuts and they came out perfectly, this time I overfilled them a bit and made only six doughnuts and they stuck to the pan horribly. Oh well, still delicious! I somehow managed to burn all four fingers on my right hand during this baking session, haha. Fun tip, should you burn your hand (minor burns of course otherwise go to a doctor!) it helps to sit around with your hand in a bowl of ice water for several hours. Thanks for the tip Mom. ;)

Thursday, December 11

New Look

For my face that is.
Turns out I am not immune to the affects of prolonged staring at a computer monitor and have proceeded to go blind.

Well, not actually blind. I've been feeling kinda blind since my eyes started to revolt in my head and cause me to wonder if I was insane, but after receiving my prescription from the doctor and exclaiming to my husband that I was blind as a bat he looked at my prescription and laughed at me. Turns out it is a very tiny prescription that barely even counts, but I'm still going to feel a lot better when I'm no longer aware of my eyes desperately trying to focus on things in the distance. I feel like a camera in low light whose attempts to focus are met with a strange and annoying grinding sound. Does your camera do that? My head camera does.

Cue the search for affordable eye wear. I hit up Bonlook and Warby Parker where I know the bloggers shop, but in the end I impulse purchased a pair from Clearly Contacts for half the price of glasses elsewhere. In the long run I might want several pairs because, you know... fashion, but for now I'm just anxious to see if I can step up to this new glasses wearing life and not hate it.

I've been relating to people how in elementary school I wanted to need glasses so I would look more unique, I also thought that about braces. High School me was not a fan of actually having braces, so hopefully mid-twenties me will do OK with the glasses thing.


So here they are, these are them, the new glasses arrived. I'm definitely digging them so far, although I had to have a lesson in  cleaning glasses last night. The more I tried the dirtier they became and Nick (who has always needed glasses but prefers contacts) showed me how to gently caress away the days dirt from my lenses. Thanks hun.

It's crazy what a difference glasses can make. I had no idea how much in my field of vision I was supposed to be able to see but couldn't. Haha. I was sitting in our bedroom exclaiming over how I could see the Christmas decorations in the dining room clearly from across the house. Basically Superman over here.

I can't wait to do a new  outfit post with these guys!

Wednesday, December 10

The Very Best Joggers

 Joggers, a fashion trend that hit the highstreet some months ago has ladies and gents alike donning soft, sweatpant like trousers in places where sweatpants were formerly outlawed, like the workplace.

So Joggers, friend or foe?

Joggers: GAP/ Silk Blouse: Everlane / Clogs: Sandgrens

At least this pair of joggers. My search for the perfect ones went much as my search for the perfect boyfriend jeans did several years ago. I tried some on in stores -- they all looked hideous on me. I perused the internet for many moons and then, one day, I came upon these. I ordered a regular large from the GAP and they were a little baggier then I wanted, but overall great. I loved them so much I ordered a second pair in Navy -- this pair -- in a medium tall.

First of all, they're french terry, which makes them soft, warm and comfortable even in our Canadian winters. I can easily layer some tights underneath when it's really damn cold, but these are fine on their own most days. They have a soft, silky finish on the outside that somehow elevates them above normal sweat pants. An illusion reinforced by the quilted 'moto' knees and exposed zippers on the front pockets and ankles. The pockets are fleecy inside so I kinda walk around with my hands in them all the time. Important note, somehow the exterior of these joggers are resistant to Lola's hair. I don't know why or how, but check it, I only have one dog hair stuck to my leg.

I've already paired them with every top in my wardrobe and I wear them about two or three times a week (good thing I have two pairs, oops, I might have four pairs 'cause I kinda bought them in two other colours. Way to go GAP and  your 40% off sales!) I have yet to be asked at work if I'm wearing sweatpants in the office *sigh of relief*.

My ultimate trick for wearing joggers is to pair them with an activity appropriate top. On this day, I wore them to work and paired them with a silk blouse. On a Saturday I'll probably wear them with a comfy sweatshirt layered over a tank with a dipped hem. At work, I wear them with cute flats, or heels. On a Saturday I'll wear them with sneakers. They look (and feel) amazing either way.

PS. This is so far, my only outfit post of November/December. Haha. I used to be so good about this! Sadly, I have about a two hour window of sunlight in my living room at the moment and I happen to work during the day. Of course, my other reason is that I've been wearing some variation on this very outfit every day *shrugs* own it.

Tuesday, December 9

Luminaria at the Devonian Gardens

On Saturday night we bundled up (thermal tights under sweatpants, two pairs of socks, tank top under long sleeve shirt under sweater...) and traipsed out to the Devonian Gardens outside of Edmonton for their annual Luminaria. They light up the gardens with luminaries, lanterns, and ice creatures and hand out complimentary hot apple cider.

It was lovely, romantic and stupid cold. We're all lucky we didn't loose our toes. In the end it was a bit of logistical nightmare as there wasn't enough parking and the whole thing involved waiting in a twenty minute line to turn left across the highway, being told we couldn't park, waiting in a twenty minute line to get back onto the highway, driving to Devon, parking and waiting in a twenty minute line to get on a shuttle bus. Arriving. Spending two hours freezing our butts off, then waiting in a twenty minute line to get back on the shuttle bus.

We probably won't attend again, but it was a fun night out of the house just the same and we did culminate the evening with homemade wonton soup and a fire in the fireplace, so we did pretty OK.

Are there winter activities you like to participate in? Regal me!

Friday, December 5

A BarkBox for Christmas: One Time Box Without Renewal

Hey lovelies,

If you have a pup but have been hesitating signing up for a subscription service like BarkBox, or if you need a Christmas gift for a dog/dog lover you know, I just wanted to give you the heads up that right now they're offering the December BarkBox without automatic renewal so you can put one under the tree.

I already signed back up for a three month subscription, so I can't benefit from this deal, but I have a few friends that can! Lola and I have always been super happy with BarkBox, their customer service is excellent and the items are always perfect for Lola. You choose the size of the intended dog, so they always get appropriate toys. She appreciates new things I can rotate into her toy basket, and she also loves the high quality, natural treats (of course).

I can't wait to see what they have in store for Christmas. You can find my past subscription box reviews here

Click here to purchase a one time BarkBox for your pup!

Thursday, December 4

The Very Best Bagels

... and why I will never buy bagels in the store again.

Turns out, they're not that difficult to make, and they are even more delicious then you ever imagined a bagel could be.

Thursday/Friday in Edmonton brought our first Snowpocalypse of the year. We got about ten inches of snow and it was nasty. A little insane. Nick and I decided to take a vacation day Friday and hibernate instead of venturing out into the blizzard. We were ever so glad we did. The only downside is that I hadn't been grocery shopping in awhile and we were running low on food. We were out of milk, eggs, the blueberry muffins I made earlier in the week, Friday morning it seemed like no one was going to get any breakfast at all. Nick sleeps on days off until about eleven, so I had some time. I borrowed a couple of eggs from my sister to make bagels. I had a recipe that seemed pretty simple and now, I had every ingredient required. I had made bagels once before, but it was a more complicated, fussy recipe with granola and flavoring and blueberries, and they didn't turn out nearly as tasty as these plain, sesame seed bagels.
I used this recipe for Montreal Style Bagels from LoveFoodies.com.

I think the trick is the maple syrup in the dough, and the honey in the water they're boiled in. They had just a subtle, rich sweetness that I could not get enough of. We gave a few to my sister and I regretted it all weekend. When I saw her later, she too waxed poetic about them saying "they weren't bagels, they were angel buns". She's an odd one, but she's right.

All in all, they only took a couple hours and required very little work thanks to my stand mixer. I cannot recommend them enough.

Wednesday, December 3

Sharing is Caring: Exactly You

I have some new printables to share with you!

Sometimes you go through stages in your life when you question a lot of things. Am I working the right job? Am I with the right person? I saw this quote today and it really resonated with me. I thought, I need that on a poster STAT and in colours that will vibe with with my room. So here you are.

The background is by Skyhaven Fonts on Creative Market and the font is called Art Brewery. 

Find previous installments of "Sharing is Caring" Printables here.

Tuesday, December 2

For Your Video Game Playing Husband

If your name is Nick Jewell and you happen to be my husband, please navigate away from this page ASAP.

Now that that's taken care of, let's discuss giving for guys.

Last Christmas Nick and I agreed we wanted to save money for the wedding and would not be purchasing each other big gifts, instead, we would fill each others stockings only. I took this to heart since I was embroiled in the purchasing of a wedding dress at the time, but Nick understood this agreement a little differently. He figured, if your future wife tells you not to buy her anything big for Christmas, it's probably a trap.

Come Christmas, I was surprised to discover he had spoiled me rotten as per usual, and he was left a little underwhelmed by the plethora of (very expensive) winter socks I had purchased him. This led to a board game buying binge in the new year that practically left us broke (board games are expensive!). Lesson learned: treat your guy right at Christmas time. This of course can extend to fathers, friends, father and brothers in law, and about any guy you might be purchasing for. Just replace "In His Stocking" with "Under the Tree". Of course, I'm also looking at this venture through the lens of someone whose husband spends his expendable cash on board games and Magic cards so if your significant other is more interested in sports then Dragon Age Inquisition, this might not be the most useful post. You could replace "leather bound Inquisition flask" with "Leather bound relevant football team flask". If you are a lady who doesn't know what Dragon Age Inquisition is but whose significant other spends a lot of time on his PS4, then this list might actually help you a great deal.

Gifts for Guys

The stocking is still first. I'm really excited about all of these items, and most of them are around $20-$30. You could pick one or two of these items and then supplement his stocking with candy, socks (hey, practical is still a good choice), etc. One thing I always add is a fancy pair of undergarments. He loves SAXX. TMI?

First, the Bioware store has some amazing merch and I think Nick would love the Inquisition leather bound journal for jotting notes down during an RPG session, the matching flask I just think is awesome. He probably wouldn't have much use for it, but it's beautifully designed and novel. It's stainless steal and comes in the leather pouch with the symbol of the Inquisition. This would be a great gift for your gaming buddy. Here's another, less nerdy option for leather bound journal, and a portion of the proceeds goes to charity.

I am obsessed with all of the charging dock/valet stations from Undulating Contours on Etsy. Nick throws his keys/phone/watch/everything into a bowl in our  bedroom, and this is the perfect piece to sit on our new nightstands. He's always loosing his glasses too, so this would solve that. I also love that it's a universal piece, you supply your own charging cable so he could use this for his phone or his Ipod. They have lots of universal options (phone and ipod, tablet and phone and ipod, etc.) and they all come in several flat packed pieces and slide together easily. Love these designs. Best of all, they don't cost an arm and a leg. The one pictured was $42.

A pair of touch sensitive gloves would be a nice upgrade, and a cool water-bottle (this one is stainless steel) is always a nice gift. I don't think we even own one water-bottle.These are both from ASOS where shipping is free worldwide.

Lastly, I always get Nick some kind of beard oil, balm or comb. That guy needs all the encouragement possible to keep that beard tamed and it's a perk for me when I don't have to contend with scratchy kisses and stubble burn on my face, you know? Keeping the beard moistened is essential to our marriage. I usually go with Etsy for this, I might share a round up of beard tonics at some point 'cause there's so many beautiful ones!

Gifts for Guys

This is what I was lacking last year, a showstopper gift that he can show off to his friends. I still like to look along the lines of practicality  (what does he need?) and decide from there. The thing Nick really wants for Christmas is a fancy new computer monitor, but A - I'm not confident in my ability to choose one for him without his input, and B - they run a little too pricey for my budget. Another thing he really needs -- and wants -- is a new messenger bag. He's had the same one since teen-hood and it's literally falling apart. I've been wanting to buy him a new one  for years and recently he said "I really need a new bag" for the first time so I'm leaning towards this option. Similar to the flask and journal from above, the Bioware store is currently selling this (kinda gorgeous right?) leather messenger bag with the symbol of the Inquisition. It's roomy and has a few good sized pockets, it's real brushed black leather with copper hardware. I dig it. I think he would too.

The other thing I'm considering is a shiny new watch. Nick's never really worn a watch but I think it would look good on him. A leather strap will be comfortable and I like the face of this one. Stylin'. It sells at Simons for $115 which is totally do able, it also comes in black and gold. Hey, it would look sweet on that valet stand. 

Friday, November 21

A Month of Dragons

So everyone knows that I'm a big giant nerd right? Just in case you had forgotten, or missed it somehow, I wanted to stop by to let you know about two of the really big, time absorbing things in my life right now.

First of all, this month I've been participating in Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month. I wanted to write something that would come easily to me to facilitate the time limit, so I chose a fantasy story with YA elements. I'm writing about dragons. It's pretty sweet.

You can check out my Nano profile here, read an excerpt from  my prologue, and follow along on my word count. Just 9 days left and I'm way behind! Haha. The reason for my behind-ness follows.
My Inquisitor Anias Trevelyan.
The second dragon in my life is currently Dragon Age: Inquisition. Being such a big fan of Mass Effect and local to Edmonton game studio Bioware it follows that I would be all over their newest game like an obese dog on cheezies. Not a saying? Too bad. Mass Effect is my favorite game world/series of all time, and the new Dragon Age feels like a peek at what's to come (hopefully) for the studio. It's run on a new engine, the Frostbite Engine, and because of that all kinds of awesome things are possible like a bridge being destroyed underneath you or a beautiful wave crashing against the shore near you. Even tides. THERE ARE TIDES. Ya, the storm coast is kinda blowing me away.

I'm behind on one dragon because the other dragon ate 20+  hours of my life in the last three days.

Balance. Working on it.

Thursday, November 20

October and November

What I haven't been doing: Taking outfit pictures. Thinking of content for this blog. Writing enough. Shopping (sigh). Leaving the house. Cooking. Grocery shopping. Cleaning.

What I have been doing: Playing Dragon Age. Playing Skyrim. Playing Mass Effect. Watching the entire series of 'Mixology' on Netflix. Starting to watch Chuck on Netflix. Ordering a lot of pizza. Starting Nanowrimo. Writing. Drinking insane amounts of tea. Geeking out over Pink and Dallas Greens new album, You+Me.

The last couple months I have shot and edited exactly zero outfit posts. This is kinda sad and disappointing because I purchased an almost entirely new wardrobe in September and I kinda love it. It's a lot more me. New me. Casual me. And I really do want to share it. Sadly, with colder temperatures and drastically less light in the day I have been unable to motivate myself to take any pics. I'm gonna try soon. In fact this weekend while there's light I might actually take a whole whack of pics. It is, of course, time to procrastinate writing because there are eleven days left in Nanowrimo and of course you still have time to finish. I'm a little insane.

October was beautiful here in Edmonton, maybe the nicest October I can remember. Not a bit of snow all month, we had a fire in our new fire pit on our new patio, we took Lola to the dog park on a regular basis and she loved it, and we even went for a couple walks around our local lake. It was lovely. Of course it's November now, and someone flipped the winter switch. I swear I will never feel warm again. November means N7 day (a holiday for nerds) which you can see Nick and I celebrating above. November means hibernating and comfort food eating and snowy cold dog walks.

When it's cold I like to bake. I baked my first dinner rolls a couple weeks ago, and homemade bread this week, and I am about to catch the cooking bug. I signed up with SPUD, who deliver seasonal, organic and local  groceries to your door and I'm making it a goal to spend more time cooking. And using more produce of course. I've got beets in my fridge for the first time ever and I am so so excited to cook up a fall feast. I already tried roasted beets, parsnip pear and coconut pasta sauce (whaat?) and Nick and I reveled in a lunch of baked potatoes with an egg cooked in the middle.

And that's about it. It's been wonderfully dull around here and I'm cool with that. Spending time with family and enjoying puppy cuddles in front of the TV during Netflix marathons is a pretty great way to spend ones winter. Ive started thinking about Christmas, which is crazy in itself, and I'm looking forward to a time when all of my laundry is done. Working on it.

That's kinda what life feels like right now, a work in progress. And I'm taking a little break.