Running Progress!

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I’m getting there! I actually ran over 6km last night!

I’m finding it really useful to use my Nike+ watch and the shoe pod during my indoor runs to track my progress. There’s also a ton of great fitness and track apps out there that don’t cost anything, either!

But, this is by far the longest I’ve EVER run before and it it feels GREAT.

xoxo,

B.elle

Topbox – January 2015

First Topbox of 2015!!!

I was pretty excited to know that it was coming in the mail, but I was already halfway to Montreal for a snowshoeing outing with the Monsieur and his friends by the time the Topbox got to the house. It’s taken a little while for me to actually get myself to post about it, but here it is!

Topbox January 2015

I know, I actually used the terrible flash, but it’s still too dark when I get home to get nice pictures using natural light and I’m far too lazy and strapped for cash to invest in a proper lighting setup.

Anyway, I’m pretty happy overall with the first Topbox of 2015!

What is it?

Topbox is a Canadian monthly beauty box subscription that features 4 deluxe samples for $12 per month, shipped right to your door via Canada Post. Some months even include full sized products! Keep in mind that they do have a waitlist of about 2-3 months from initial sign-up before you start your subscription!

So Susan’s Dual Brow Powder – $18 for 4g

I already use the Brow Zings in Dark by Benefit to shape up my brows and it’s not even halfway done yet, so I was intrigued by the So Susan version but also kind of sad because I don’t feel like I want to try a new brow product!

The powder colour itself should match most brow colours, except for very light hair tones like blonde and ginger.

Topbox January 2015

See? It’s quite nice and the powder itself feels pretty smooth. My mom’s almost finished her own brow pencil so she’s stolen this from me.

Matrix’s Oil Wonders  – 10mL sachets each

I couldn’t find a reliable price on the Matrix Oil Wonder line since it’s only sold in salons.

When I got my hair cut a couple months ago, my hair stylist used a Moroccan oil-based shampoo and conditioner and my hair came out so silky and soft, even before she hit it with the hair dryer! I’m definitely going to be trying these out tonight!

Elizabeth Arden’s Flawless Future Powered by Ceramide Moisture Cream Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30 ($5.83 for 7mL) – $60 for 50mL

Elizabeth Arden doesn’t say that it’s an anti-aging cream. But, the description on the website says that it’s supposed to help “intercept the first signs of aging.” Um. Okay. Sure.

Anyway, I do like that it’s absorbed really quickly and how smooth and light it feels. Am I going to be using this? Probably not, but I do appreciate the SPF protection.

(It seems that my mom’s also stolen this for her own stash…)

Eyeko’s Mascara Off Makeup Remover Wipes – $12 for 10 sheets

I was so excited to see Eyeko again in my box! This brand makes some truly amazing cosmetics!

I’m going away again this weekend with the Monsieur, so I’m definitely going to be taking this pack with me. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’ve heard really great things about it and I’m really curious to see how they compare to Benefit’s They’re Real Remover!

Verdict: 4.5/5 – Nothing truly jumped out at me, but January’s Topbox was really well balanced and I can confidently say that all of the samples are going to be used!

What was in your Topbox?

xoxo,

B.elle

Prociutto and Pea Risotto

Apparently, risotto is a romantic dish.

I totally didn’t know that it was until I was talking to a coworker about making a classic, Italian risotto: arborio rice, white wine, and a bunch of parmesan cheese. He said, “That sounds awesome! What’s the occasion?”

There’s no occasion. I don’t need an occasion to make and eat a damn good risotto and it was actually a lot cheaper than you might think. Of course, I sort of made it a fancier occasion by picking out a nice local Chardonnay by Vintage Ink and plated the risotto pretty nicely.

Prosciutto and Pea Risotto

It’s nice to be classy sometimes, yaknow?

In a restaurant, this dinner for two would easily come up to $90 after tax and tips. (Or more, depending on the restaurant!)

I paid about $35, but I had to buy more of some ingredients full sized because of packaging and I included the whole bottle of wine. Here’s my cost break down, including the store:

  • Arborio rice – $3.40 for 450g (Bulk Barn)
  • Chicken broth – $2.00 for 1L (on sale, diluted slightly, Loblaws)
  • Frozen peas – $2.49 for 750g (only need 1 cup, Loblaws)
  • Green onion – $1.29 for about 5 stalks (only need 2, Loblaws)
  • Cooking onion – $0.57 for 1 medium onion (only need half, Loblaws)
  • Parmigiano reggiano – $4.75 for 88g (pre-shaved in house, Loblaws)
  • Prosciutto, shaved – $3.17 for 74g (PC brand, Loblaws)
  • Chardonnay – $16.95 for 750mL (Vintage Ink, LCBO)

Since I only needed fractions of some ingredients, the actual cost is probably closer to $30 with the wine included.

You could easily get an $11 bottle of wine and it would work just the same, but I like to drink and cook at the same time, so there you go.

The end result? Lots of cuddles and relaxation with the Monsieur. I guess risotto really can be quite romantic… (Or it’s the wine!)

Prociutto and Pea Risotto

Makes: 4 portions
Takes: About 1hr, including prep

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup arborio rice (approx. 400g)
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay, but feel free to use something else)
1 1/2 L chicken broth, low sodium or less
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
75g parmigiano reggiano, sliced or fresh grated
70g prosciutto, finely sliced, cut into smaller pieces
2 tbsp green onions, finely sliced on a slant
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt
Pepper

0. Warm chicken stock until almost boiling. Add vegetable scraps from prep into broth for extra flavour.

1. Heat olive oil in a large pan (at least 12″ wide and 2″ deep) on MED-HIGH heat. Fry prosciutto until crispy and set aside.

2. Saute onion until fragrant and barely translucent. Reduce heat to MEDIUM-LOW.

3. Stir in arborio rice and saute until the grains are shiny and somewhat clear. (This can take more than 5 minutes!)

4. Slowly add in white wine and stir rice until the wine has been fully absorbed. It may still smell a bit sharp due to the alcohol.

5. When there’s almost no liquid left, ladle in 1/2 cup chicken stock and stir rice while the stock is absorbed by the rice.

6. Repeat, stirring occasionally until the rice is al dente, about 25 minutes. It’s easiest to stir the rice and let it sit for a moment to gauge how fast the liquid is absorbed. As the rice gets cooked, it absorbs the broth more slowly.

7. Once it barely gets absorbed after stirring in a bit of broth, taste the rice to check its doneness. If it’s still a little stiff or starchy for your liking, add in another ladle of stock and stir until you’re satisfied.

8. Stir in 60g of parmigiano reggiano until fully melted. Stir in thawed peas, prosciutto and green onions and turn off the heat. Season to taste.

9. Serve garnished with freshly cracked black pepper and sliced green onions.

I didn’t know that the Monsieur wanted to watch and learn how to make risotto, so I had already started by the time he got back! Oops!

I guess that means I’ll have to make this delicious, creamy risotto again. What horrors.

xoxo,

B.elle

Ouch!

I’m usually pretty careful when I’m training, especially for parkour. I mean, it’s a dangerous sport in the first place, so it’s incredibly important to keep practicing techniques and motions until you can’t get it wrong.

But, just like any other sport, accidents happen! Like this!

Bruised ribs

OW, right?

That would be my lower right ribs after practicing a precision bar swing and losing a bit of balance, making me smash my ribs into the corner ledge of the MV’s F-block!

Luckily, it’s just a bruise and nothing fractured, but I was down for a good few minutes since it was the 7th rib and it’s a weak spot on the human body.

Even with this injury, I’m probably going to keep doing some light running this week or get into the indoor track. Rest is for the weak!!

(I’m kidding. I know I should take it easy, but I also know that breaking my running and parkour habit would completely de-motivate me!)

xoxo,

B.elle

 

Mascara Trick

You’ve probably had this issue before… You have a nice mascara that you really like and it suddenly starts to clump and doesn’t QUITE go on as well as it used to.

This has been happening a lot with my own mascara and I know there’s a bit left in the tube, so I tried out this technique:

“Warm up your mascara tube fpr 30 seconds in your bra, or while you’re doing the rest of your makeup, and your mascara will work like new!”

I don’t have much cleavage, so I do this…

Warming Mascara

Stick the tube right between my legs! Ha!

I actually do my makeup while sitting down with a large handheld mirror since the bathroom mirror is just too far for me without my glasses. (Yeah, I’m that blind!)

I have to say, this trick actually works! Warming up the tube for a little bit really does “melt” the mascara just enough to get better application. Of course, there’s so little left in my tube that I think I have to get more soon…

xoxo,

B.elle

Spiced Rum Walnut Coffee Cake

I haven’t baked in a while and, in my slight delirium while being sick with a nasty cold, I decided that I would bake a cake!

Spiced Rum Walnut Coffee Cake

I’m not the greatest baker by any means and this has nothing to do with New Year’s Resolutions, but I can at least follow directions pretty easily, so it can come out pretty good.

I wanted to make something with the Kraken Spiced Black Rum that I have, so I went to search for a rummy coffee cake recipe!

I found this Mocha Rum Cake recipe by Epicurious, but I modified it slightly to fit the needs of my pantry. (In other words, I had less solid chocolate than I thought so I substituted some chocolate with organic spiced hot chocolate powder with some consultation by Christine.)

Spiced Rum Walnut Coffee Cake

Takes: 2 hours (Prep: 15 minutes, Bake: 1 hour 45 minutes)
Makes: 10-12 servings

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 oz. chocolate, chopped
1 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup hot chocolate powder (optionally spiced)
1/3 cup spiced rum
1 1/2 cup strong coffee
1 1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Grease a 4 1/2-inch-deep (12-cup) Kugelhupf or bundt pan and dust with flour. (This will help keep the cake from sticking to the pan.)
  3. In a bowl whisk or sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Melt the chocolate.
    (I microwaved the chocolate for 30 seconds, then in 10 second intervals with mixing because this recipe doesn’t need to temper the chocolate. If you like, you can use the traditional way of melting the chocolate in a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water.)
  5. Remove chocolate from heat and stir in rum, coffee, and granulated sugar until well mixed and fully dissolved. (It will be really runny!)
  6. Pour chocolate mixture into a large mixing bowl bowl. With an electric mixer, beat in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down side, and beat in eggs and vanilla until batter is combined well. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  7. Bake cake in middle of oven for 1 hour 45 minutes or until the tester (toothpick or otherwise) comes out clean.
  8. Let cake cool completely in pan on a rack and turn it out onto rack. Cake may be made 3 days in advance and kept wrapped well and chilled.

The spiced component of the hot chocolate really gives it an unexpected kick! This would go deliciously with some vanilla ice cream.

If you want to try it but you don’t have spiced hot chocolate mix, I’d recommend adding in about 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper powder and a pinch of ground cinnamon or ground clove into the hot chocolate part to spice it up.

Happy baking!

xoxo,

B.elle

Happy New Year! It’s 2015! – Resolutions

Happy New Year! It’s a brand new year and there’s a lot of opportunities to look forward to!

It’s usually around this time that people make “resolutions” and most of them are given up within a month or two. One of the reasons why I hated going to gyms in January because it’s always so packed with new members trying to start the new year with a new exercise routine. (By February, it’s usually dead but it’s a lot easier to find a machine!)

I can’t really relate to most resolutions because I’ve found that most resolutions are too vague to really commit to. The most common resolutions are usually something vague like, “Lose Weight” or “Quit Smoking” or “Get Fit.” How can you commit to a goal when there’s no solid plan or direction to achieve that goal?

That’s why I’m posting my resolutions here with a (rough) outline of what I’ll do to achieve it!

1. Run a 5K in under 45mins

I’ve already been working on this one since September when I walked the Oasis Zoo 5K, so I’m well on the way to achieve that! I’m currently at running 2.5km non-stop but I go as far as 5km without completely dying.

I’m planning on registering for the Oasis Zoo 5K Run 2015 very soon, so I won’t really be able to fail this without losing a bunch of money.

Of course, I’ll have to change my eating habits to be a little more energy-dense and long-lasting for the run, so there’s the whole “healthy eating” spin on that resolution, too!

2. Completely use up at least one tube of lipstick

I have so many lipsticks that I don’t know what to do with them! It’s going to be a really hard exercise in self-control to use only one lipstick for stretches at a time, but I’ll do my best to do it!

Most likely, I’ll be sticking with my Tarte Amazonian Butter Lipstick or the relatively new Kat Von D Studded Kiss lipstick in Adora that I picked up in early December, I think. Adora’s a lovely metallic golden red, so both can be used in a lot of situations!

3. Learn French

Yeah, I’ve had French classes up to Grade 10 in high school, but it’s not like I remember anything and I can’t conjugate a sentence if my life depended on it.

I’m being surrounded by French at work and with the Monsieur, so I figure that it’s a sign that I should pick up the language!

3. Not break up with the Monsieur

We’re doing really well (in my opinion, at least), so it’s not a huge challenge, but it’s definitely one that needs a lot of work and open communication from both of us.

The communication part of this resolution is something that I know I need to work on in general, too!

This last one’s kind of vague, but it’s not like I want to break up with him in general, so it’s more of an ongoing thing.

That’s all the “resolutions” I have for 2015. Many of these resolutions need a lot of mental preparation, psychological and spirital change, and, most importantly, a willingness to embrace that change.

I hope you all have a great new year and that 2015 will be a good one!

xoxo,

B.elle