Easy Strawberry and Cream Puff Pastry

I’m not a chef, just a kid who plays in the kitchen with efficient objects. That being said, sometimes I’m hit with inspiration or a craving that pushes me to come up with something from scratch and actually delicious.

Saturday was one of those days. I had a great, big batch of beautiful red strawberries and some puff pastry in the freezer. With the sun barely peaking through the clouds, I decided what I needed was a little taste of spring: then came forth the strawberry and cream pastry!

This dessert is inspired by cream puffs and napoleons (both of which I adore). I had never really worked with puff pastry before, but I was surprised with how easy the baking process was. It’s easier to screw up a cake than puff pastry! It’s super easy and very fun to make, and so satisfying to eat! Here’s the recipe:

Roll the pastry out relatively thin, to the point it was almost the exact size of my sheet pan. I did this twice so I had 2 sheets of rolled pastry to bake.

Use a fork to poke the pastry in several areas before you bake it.

Bake according to instructions (mine was about 10 minutes).

Cool on rack before slicing.

Whipped Cream:

Combine ingredients and whisk until the cream is think and has peaks. It needs to be stiff enough to spread without being runny.

Strawberries:

Slice 8-10 strawberries width wise. Sprinkle with a tsp lemon juice and a tsp of powdered sugar and mix together.

Assembly:

Laying your pastry “hotdog style” Slice 4 columns. Then cut each column in half.

Layer one slice of pastry with whipped cream and strawberries. Lightly layer cream on the bottom of a second slice and place it on top. Repeat for a second layer and top with a final slice of pastry.

Top with powdered sugar or a drizzle of chocolate.

Tip: use as much whipped cream as you want!

Tip: if your pastry ends up really thick, feel free to cut in half for the middle and top layer to get a better balance of texture and flavor.

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New Fitness and Pushing the Comfort Zone

I do not remember learning what “comfort zone” means. It has been a part of my generation’s upbringing, and a phrase that was naturally ingratiated into our vocabulary at young ages. Rather than being a one-trick toddlers and teen, I have always been pushed to get out of that zone of complacency and comfort.

As an adult, I had to realize what my comfort zone actually was. Though I was taught to always push myself and try new things, I was also keen to accept praise whenever the endeavour was successful and even more eager to avoid complete failure. I am 25 years old, and I realized that I generally reject what I am not good at. My comfort zone is built on feeling accomplished, and failure is perhaps the most scary thing to me.

This mind set has been detrimental to my fitness. I realize that now. I have avoided gym memberships and classes, marathon training, going solo to a yoga studio, etc. because I do not want to be a failure in front of others. I don’t want to display my physical weakness, the fact I can’t touch my toes, or the way I sweat like a giant man. The thought of it is NOT COMFORTABLE.

Enter Rock Climbing.

I have always been a “finesse” fitness person. I have done yoga, tennis, ballet, and generally avoided the high impact sports (especially with teams). I have considered myself weak and incapable of things like rock climbing… even though I have always wanted to try it. My chance came this February, when my husband was invited to go by his school’s departmental secretary (who is the nicest person you will ever meet). I wanted to go and see what it was like, but I was so nervous to be an amateur in a room of experienced climbers. My hands were sweaty from the moment we left our apartment to the moment I stood in front of the wall ready to climb. I was shaking and scared that I had made a mistake. Negative thoughts ran through my head faster than I could process them. Then I started to climb.

I was not very good. I had a hard time positioning my legs on the wall and using my fingers to grip the rocks. I forgot I had muscles anywhere else but my arms, and I awkwardly made it to the top of the wall in about 5 minutes. When I got to the top though, I did not feel like a failure in comparison to others. I felt a high of accomplishment. THIS is what getting out of your comfort zone feels like. It was not a perfect climb, nor was it my ideal way exercise, but getting to the top of that wall was a feeling of triumph. For that moment, I did not care what others thought.

We have continued to go to the same facility to climb nearly every week. I started at the lowest level of climb, and I have managed to go up one level since then. I’m still the worst climber out there, but I can’t get enough of that feeling of pushing myself further. It has also inspired me to try other things that I usually avoid because of the fear that I will not be comfortable (like going solo to a yoga class).

What has pushed you out of your comfort zone as an adult? What piece of your fitness routine drives you the most? What have you learned about yourself through trying new things? These are all questions that I hope to answer POSITIVELY by the end of 2018.

Walking on Lake Ontario – Free Toronto Weekend Adventure

Do you ever do something awesome and then immediately feel like you should have had it on your curated bucket list? It’s probably not an every day occurrence, a random enjoyable experience can sneak up on you and you just know that it was bucket list worthy.

This sort of experience happened to us last week (and by us I mean: me, the husband, and the dog).

It was another day of going to the dog park with our pup. We decided to forgo our normal winter area and check our the Cherry Beach dog park since it was above freezing and parking is free. When we got there, we realized the lake was FROZEN SOLID. Not only that but people were walking on the ice… with their dogs!

We had heard tell of this before, but we’re not necessarily all that familiar with winter. In my mind ice = danger. I think of scenes with near death experiences from Its a Wonderful Life, Little Women, The Chronicles Of Narnia, etc. However, how could we pass up a chance to walk on a Great Lake?? & with our dog??

When we stepped our onto the ice I went into oscillating states of happiness and pure fear. Eventually the fear went away and I was able to really take in how amazing this happen stance opportunity was. I could tell that walking on the lake was kind of normal to other people there, but it was honestly something that I would have never known that I wanted to do until I did it. It was beautiful, natural, and a lot of fun!

Friday Favourites – Eggs, Oils, + More

  1. Jaime Oliver’s Youtube Channel: I have fallen in love with cooking since August of 2017. I find such joy in taking time to follow recipes and enjoying the results. Jaime’s Youtube channel is like the easiest to follow cookbook. I love the guest appearances and also the way he incorporates easy ingredients. His egg video(s) astound me. So many new ways to cook one of my favourite foods!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jzm2kExgIPc

2 . The CINNAMON ROLES THAT DON’T PROVE YOUR WORTH

The realness of this post gave me CHILLS. If you feel like you’re trapped in a patriarchal and misogynist cyclone, give this a read.

3. Essential Oils

How am I so late to this game? I have never doubted the effectiveness or MAGIC of oils, but I never knew where to start. My MIL gifted us a diffuser and small oils kit and I have been so pleased with how they have added to our home in a positive way. My current favourite combo is Eucalptus + Lavender. What oils should I get next?

4. PC Butternut Squash Soup

The President’s Choice brand (Canadian brand) has some of my favorite foods to pick up from the grocery store. Their soups are incredible and my new fave is definitely the boxed Squash soup. It’s extra creamy with a little kick.

5. Blogilates New YEAR challenge

I’ve been loving Casey’s Pop Pilates videos for a couple of months and I love this calendar to reset your fitness life for the New Year. All of the workouts can be done in under 30 minutes and always leave me sore!

3 Last Minute Thanksgiving Side Dishes

 

Last MinuteWe always spend Thanksgiving with my husband’s side of the family. For them, Thanksgiving is the time when all of the relatives travel from across the country to stay together for three non-stop and CRAZY days. The first time I attended it was almost like an initiation into the family ritual of pure and delightful chaos.

Nothing is planned and everything is a go-with-the-flow sort of feel. Its definitely not how I normally do things (I plan things down to the hour, heck to the minute), but Thanksgiving with our family is the time to put the planner away and just let things happen. Of course, the laissez-faire attitude can lead to some last minute recipes and adjustments to the Thanksgiving feasts. If your family is like ours, it is always nice to have a few good back up recipes if you need them.

What do you mean there’s not a green bean dish? Oh, I don’t really like mashed potatoes… Is there a vegan option?

We’ve got you covered.

Here are my husband and I’s tried and true recipes (mostly from other blogs!) for when things just need a little stability. I hope you enjoy!

Green Bean Casserole Just Like Mom Used to Make 

No lie, one year I made this casserole for my husband instead of a birthday cake because he loves it so much. This is a fool-proof recipe that only requires basic pantry items. If there’s no green bean casserole on the menu, why not give this one a go? The mushroom soup can be easily substituted by Cream of Chicken.

Vegan Smashed Potatoes (You HAVE to try these)

Angela’s blog is one of my favourites because most of her recipes are very accessible. The smashed potatoes have the best texture, and her avocado aioli is also delicious. You could easily substitute the aioli with Sriracha too for a little extra kick and a little saved time. (PS, you will want to snack on these even after dinner is over!)

Warm Mexican Corn Salad (Great for WW)

Bailey’s instagram is inspirational and I love learning healthy tips from her. The recipe on her blog was exciting to make because I knew I would love it. The ingredient list is basically all of my favourite foods. Don’t skimp on the feta for this recipe!

 

 

Fall Must Haves and Must Do’s

Is there anyone who can resist the warm and cozy calling of the Autumnal season? The world becomes a sea of burnt orange and crimson hues, over run with pumpkin spice, and covered in flannel.

I love fall because it always makes me feel extra productive. I start school, I do a lot of cleaning, I go on fall themed excursions, and I always have a great “changing of the wardrobe” (when I switch my closet over to a more winter based system).

This post is acting like a fall shopping list, bucket list, and also fall favorites that I personally never shut up about between September and November. Let’s go.

1. Mules

 

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These are the fall version of your favorite summer slides. There are so many styles to choose from and also a variety of price range for these trendy shoes – however, since they are a trend I like to find the best bang for my buck. I found a few different styles of mules for under $30 at Urban Planet. I can’t wait to style the black leather pair with some denim and a classy top. Find them here.

2. Davids Tea

David’s has one of the best tea selections for seasonal blends. Their fall selection is slowly being released and I was so excited to see an old favorite: Blueberry Muffin. Don’t knock it til you try it, and keep your eyes peeled for their pumpkin teas because they are equally delicious. My tea trick: mix and match blends!

3. Dad hats

While I love a good wide brimmed hat for fall and winter, I love the dad hats of summer. Why can’t they be a fall item too? Some of my favourite hat shops are on Etsy, and they have some many quirky and fun designs that I just can’t say no to. I currently have my eye on this little number from 999spyglass:

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I also love the patch trend that’s happening right now and I found some patched hats that are super cute from WildFlower and Co on Etsy. Look at how many options there are!

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4. Pumpkin Pancakes

One of the best parts of fall is trying new recipes. I’ve been scouring pinterest for yummy breakfast ideas and I came across this masterpiece: APPLE PIE PANCAKES WITH VANILLA SYRUP 

Averie Cooks is the genius behind these, and I have a feeling I’ll be thanking her for blessing me with this glorious combination of flavours.

I can’t wait for the first crisp morning of fall and to treat myself with these delicious looking pancakes.

5. Fall Wreath

Is there anything more welcoming than a wreath with a pumpkin on it? I think not. I’ve never made a wreath before, but I’m looking forward to trying it out and personalizing it to my own taste. Here are my inspiration pieces so far.

 

6. Vegan Stew (the perfect fall recipe)

Last year I discovered the “Oh She Glows” blog and cookbook. While I am not vegan nor vegetarian, I love trying new recipes and adding more vegetables into my diet. My husband and I fell HARD for this Stew the first time we tried it. First off, it incorporates sweet potatoes and squash (the perfect fall ingredients); then it is combined with a  cozy blend of spices; and finally it is topped off with red lentils to make you feel nice and full. We eat this recipe without the rice and we add a little bit of lime to it for a punch of citrus.

All of Angela’s (the woman behind the blog) recipes are easy to work with, even if you are not vegan. I often sub the vegan oils for ones that I already have and tweak wherever is necessary so I can use what I already have on hand. In any case, I have never tried a recipe from Oh She Glows with the result of disappointment. So far they have all been tasty and delicious!

7. Dark Lips

They day is coming when the dark lip can be an every day lip. I’m mainly looking forward to wearing a plummy lipstick because of Veronica Lodge from Riverdale. If you haven’t watched Riverdale, you are missing out. It’s a cool blend of Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars with a little dash of Cole Sprouse.

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Anyways, Veronica’s bold lip is simply inspirational. Since the show is sponsored by Covergirl, it was very easy for viewers to guess Veronica’s go-to colour: Marroon Meow by Katy Perry for Covergirl. Once I found the shade, I bought it within 24 hours. Now, I can’t wait to channel my inner River Vixen.

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8. Apple picking

Something that I have NEVER done in the fall is go to a legit orchard. While I like apples, it has always been more of a tradition for me to go to a pumpkin patch. Then I saw Carly’s post from last fall and I have made a solemn vow to forget the pumpkins and finally make my way to the orchard for a fun fall day.

Easter Dresses 2017

Easter dresses

 

Having an Easter dress is a tradition that I grew up with as a kid. Even when we hit hard times, we would still go to K-Mart and pick out something special for Easter to wear to church. I’ve been looking around for the perfect Easter dress for this year.I’m the type of girl who doesn’t get sad about window shopping. Instead, I get inspired and genuinely happy just looking at clothes and it makes me even happier to think about sharing them with someone who will buy an item I’ve picked out and love it. So here are my Easter picks for this year!

  1. If I were to invest in a dress this year, the Old Navy dress would be perfect for my budget. I love the bright yellow paired with the delicate lace details. I think the fit and flair cut is one that would be flattering on several figures. Plus, it is a dress that you can wear with a cardigan and I’m all about that cardi life. Buy it here.
  2. Francesca’s is my go to store for adult-ish type clothes (any one age 18-35?). All of their dresses make me want to hide my student loans under a rug and look fabulous forever. I found this hot-pink dress and realized it comes in about 12 different colours and is only $20.00! Its a steal! Get it while you can! Here.
  3. The short sleeve blue dress screamed “classy” whenever I saw it. How cute would it look with brown wedges and pearls? Eep! Just take my money! I like to peruse through boutique websites and Red Dress Boutique is one of my favorites. They can be a little pricey, but all of their clothes are super trendy and good quality too. It is a decent price, coming to $34.00. But it here.
  4. Finally I have my splurge item and of course its from J Crew (factory). You have been living under a rock if you have not seen this perfectly polka-dotted dress. I feel like nothing could go wrong to anyone wearing this dress. Again, I would pair it with some brown wedges, a slim belt, and some pearls for Easter. To justify the price ($93.00), this dress  would be one that I would wear for several different occasions. I can see myself wearing it with a denim jacket and converse; with sandals and a straw hat; with adidas and my favorite baseball cap; with birkenstocks with a ribbon in my hair. Basically we all need this dress like Opera needs to give us a new car. Buy it here.

And that’s it! I hope you all have a great Easter and remember the reason why we dress up in the first place (Jesus!). I always felt torn buying a new dress for Easter, but I know now that the happiness of the celebration is shown culturally through fashion. People want to wear their best and I’ve come to terms with that. It doesn’t change the season if you don’t get a new dress, and you can have fun re-styling what you already have!

Whether you go to church every Sunday, only on Easter and Christmas, or not at all, I truly wish you a great season of happiness, joy, and hope.