Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

My mom was having a pool party this past weekend and she asked if I could bring a dessert for after dinner. I usually get asked to make dessert because it is easy to transport baked goods and because I love to bake! So I hopped on my Pinterest desserts board to figure out what I wanted to make. Turns out half of the stuff in there is cake-flavoured this and something cake flavoured was on the menu!

I ended up copying the recipe for Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies from Sally's Baking Addiction. I simply love making cookies :). I actually really enjoyed her recipe, because she gives tons of tips for getting a good, soft cookie- like refrigerating the batter and rolling them into little towers instead of balls. Awesomesauce. The only trick I knew for baking is that you never melt your butter or you will get flat cookies.

I knocked these out on Thursday night and they were super easy to make, even if they did take a little long because I had to let the dough cool! I followed her directions to a T, and I ended up with 40 perfect cookies. Thank you Sally!

The only thing I would say about these cookies- and this is going to be shocking so hold onto your hats- is that I am not sure they even need the chocolate chips. GASP. The cookie itself is really good, and then with the semi-sweet chips and the white chocolate chips...there is just a lot of competition for flavour going on in every bite.

That being said, they are still super yummy. A competition for "best flavour" going on in your mouth is hardly a bad reputation for a cookie to have! Plus, after 2 days, these cookies are still melt in your mouth soft. I think I need to work this dough-cooling stage into all my cookies recipes.

Have you ever made cake-flavoured anything? It is really trendy right now!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Casey Gets Fit: Week 22

Weight: 151 lbs (14 lbs lost overall)
BMI: 23.6

Arg, I so badly want to get into the 140s, but I really am trying not to make excuses on here, because I know the only reason I am still in the 150s is me cheating. My "diet" plan is a certain number of calories per day. Some days I go over those calories. And then when Sunday rolls around and I see the scale hasn't changed...well I know exactly who to point my finger at.

Eating well is hard. I think it starts from a young age when we are conditioned to eat our emotions. How often do you give a cookie to cheer a kid up? I am pretty lucky that I actually lose my appetite when I am stressed or upset (and also super lucky that I rarely AM stressed or upset), but I am a total boredom-eater. I am working on it.

How often do we tell ourselves the following:
- I deserve this
- I need a treat
- I earned this

etc, etc...

I am trying to break that habit. I can totally have junk food- but I want to break the cycle of feeling that I in some way "deserve" a cookie. No. I just want a cookie because cookies are delicious. Sometimes I find myself grabbing for a coke zero and stopping myself and realizing I don't even want a coke zero. I just want something because I am bored and coke zero is a treat and therefore it will make me less bored. And yes, I know coke zero is calorie free, but it still isn't good for me. And it makes me crave cookies.

I also struggle with eating out. Eating out to me is a celebration! You can't celebrate with healthy food! You need french fries! I am pretty good with avoiding alcohol and high calorie drinks when I eat out, but I still find myself making bad choices for my food when picking off a menu.

So yes- two things I need to work on:
1. Eating/drinking what I actually need and want vs what I have ingrained myself to crave in moments of boredom
2. Making better choices at restaurants.

I am not sure what my weight will be coming back from a week of vacation, but those two resolves are definitely going to be tested when I am relaxing all day. I do plan on running still while I am gone, so that will help!

View of Toronto from my run on Saturday morning

Do you have triggers for bad food choices too?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Five Things Friday

I thought I would have an amazing recipe to share today, but it is taking eons longer to prepare than I thought (there was an unnoticed refrigeration stage) so I thought I would share 5 random things on this glorious Friday. TGIF anyone??

1. I am off work next week! Going to be hitting up my mom's house for a pool party Saturday, then Cam and I are driving to Montreal and staying over there Sunday night, and then I am off to my friend's cottage for a week of nothing but beer and relaxation. I hope not to gain any weight by keeping up my running while I am there, but we shall see. I am excited for the fresh air! and maybe the beer too :)

2. I've been fixing up my TV table for the past week or so. It looks great, but I am waiting for it to cure and for better light to photograph it so you might have to wait another week or two to see! In the meantime, I have had the TV disconnected. However, last night I got bored so I set it up on the couch and plugged it in to watch a movie! Built-in DVD player for the win.

3. My 15km race is in only 3 weeks! Eep- how did that happen so fast? My training has been going great though. Getting out there at least 3 times a week, generally one tempo run for 5km or so, one 6-8km run, and one long run on the weekend. Last weekend I hit 13.8km and this weekend I plan to do 14km. I am going to keep it up while at the cottage and hopefully complete a full 15km on the long weekend. Then I will taper it down until my race! I have really been enjoying my runs though, and I am starting to wonder if next year a half marathon might be in the bag? HMM

10K race this past May
4. Omg I cannot WAIT for my new wig to get here. I am already checking the mail every day in the hopes that maybe it will come 1-2 months early. A girl can dream, right? Literally, I have dreams about it. In the meantime, my mom introduced me to this headcover product called Buffs (for haired people too!). I ordered a plain one, a high UV one (for zee beach), and a quick-dry, cooling one for running in! I am so excited. Usually I just wear a bandanna when I don't have my wig on, but these are uber stylish! It is too bad they won't arrive in time for the cottage, but I will definitely get use out of them- check out all the ways you can wear one:

5. I don't usually get into the personal lives of my friends and family on this blog much, but I just had to share this photo! My mom is going through chemotherapy for breast cancer this summer (don't worry- she is doing fantastic and the chemo is more of a "make sure we get it all" kind of deal). My stepdad uploaded this photo to Facebook and oh my gosh- it is like looking 30 years into the future. People always have said we look alike, but with my hair loss it has been less noticeable- up until now!

Her and I are planning a fun photoshoot to commemorate being bald buddies this summer. I will share the photos later this summer!

Well, that is all the updates I have for now! I will have a couple posts up next week, but expect some silence from me this week. Internetting constantly is a total cottage faux pas.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Quick and Easy Paint Transformations Giveaway!

I thought I would be able to show another awesome Chalk Paint® project before this giveaway ended, but alas, the weekend got away from me so I will be showing it later this week. In the meantime, you should enter my giveaway for Annie Sloan's Book: Quick and Easy Paint Transformations. 

I should let you in on a secret: I kind of suck at all projects I try. I am a super-amateur and mistakes happen and I just have to laugh it off and learn from it. I Google all sorts of tutorials before I even attempt something. If you are nervous about painting furniture or trying a new paint technique on something in your home, this book is for you. It covers everything from tools needed and how to choose them to fancy techniques like hand-painting and gilding.

It has lots of pictures accompanying the various tutorials, so you should be able to get a good handle on the techniques they describe. I find it really handy for learning about how to properly distress furniture or how to paint a floor! There really are all sorts of options, so I would recommend checking it out.

To enter the giveaway, just head on over to my post on my newly painted table  and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! All I want to know is what you would like to try painting in your home and in what colour! I sure have started to go a bit crazy with painting things, now that I've got a bit of a handle on technique.

The contest ends tomorrow at midnight so head on over and enter now!

Disclaimer: The copy of this book was provided by Annie Sloan Unfolded. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Casey Gets Fit: Week 21

Weight: 151.2 lbs (13.8 lbs lost overall)
BMI: 23.6

Oh hello, Mr. Plateau. It seems we meet again! Though, I am not surprised to be here as I ate out THREE times this week, and one of those times was Mandarin followed by ice cream cake #worthit. Eating out is the worst possible thing to do when trying to lose weight because everything is higher calories than you would eat at home. Even salad is cray-cray at a restaurant.

However, my workouts were pretty good this week so the "fit" part of my plan is going along swimmingly. Tuesday I went to free yoga in my building, Thursday I ran a bit with the "Blogger Joggers" group (though I am considering switching the name to "Bloggers drinking Lagers", because we seem to do more of that than jogging)! Friday I ran a fast 5km (27 minutes y'all!). Saturday I did an hour of strength work in the gym to make sure I keep my muscles from boot camp and Sunday I ran 13.8km!

Fun fact about my long run on Sunday, I actually managed to run from my condo to the bridge over the Humber River. That has been a goal of mine for SO long and even though I was only supposed to run 13km, I realized I was close to the bridge and kept going! I felt so awesome hitting that goal!

It was a foggy morning, but that's the city skyline
I think the biggest hurdle to overcome in running is the idea that you can't take walking breaks. My legs were sore from my workout on Saturday so I did "run 4 minutes/walk 1 minute" for this whole run. I felt pretty good the whole time! No shame in taking my time when my goal for the day is purely distance.

I have been thinking lately that I am doing this fit-blogging thing all wrong in that I haven't been taking progress pics. But I am just so lazy, people!! I never even took a "before" picture. I somehow found myself alone in the gym on Saturday (I love that), so I took some embarrassing selfies so I could show you guys how my body is looking after 5 months of hard work! I haven't lost much weight recently, but I am definitely starting to get comments on how much thinner I am looking :).

For the record, I'm 5'7

And since I don't really have a "before" picture (I am usually behind the camera), here is a shot of me running the Terry Fox Run in 2013, when I was probably about 165lbs.

Today's Get Pumped Track: Meghan Trainor- All About that Bass

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Outdoor Table Upgrade with Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan

I have been talking for awhile about updating the table out on my balcony. It is a discontinued Ikea table that once had two matching chairs, but one got smashed during a party a few years ago (and I think I am going to just toss the other chair because I never use it). It is a great gateleg table, but it has definitely being looking a little worse for wear after 4 years outdoors.

The top of the table also got ruined by the melting wax candle incident of last summer. See the big dark spot? Does not come out.

Therefore, when I was contacted to try out Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan, I jumped on the chance to update this table! It has a lot of pieces and is a pretty time-consuming project so I knew a good quality paint that would eliminate the primer stage was in order. Plus Chalk Paint® is good for indoor and outdoor use so I knew it would hold up on the balcony.

The colour I picked out was Provence, because I have an undying love of all things turquoise.

Chalk Paint® does not need much prep before applying, but I did have to wash the table down as it was covered in Toronto grime. However, when scrubbing it, the old stain started to peel up so I ended up having to sand it all down to ensure a smooth finish.

Then I dragged it back inside to paint! I chose to paint inside because Toronto is crazy humid and I knew the paint would cure better indoors. Luckily the paint is lead-free, EG-free, odor-free and low-VOC, so it was quite comfortable and safe painting inside. Plus I had the TV to entertain me.

I first painted the legs and bottom. I had to paint the underside because a lot of it is visible when the sides of the table are down. The paint went on great- very smooth and thick, yet dried fast so I could whip out 2 coats in a short amount of time. The paint is interesting to work with, in that you can add water to thin it out, or leave the can open overnight to thicken it up- this allows you to do all sort of finishing techniques. I wanted a nice, smooth finish so I just used it as is. I didn't worry to much about painting over any hinges because this paint sticks to metal too! I like how the visible hinges blend right in when painted.

After I flipped it over, I quickly sanded down any drips that got through the gaps and then painted the top. I used a good-quality brush for the first layer, but then switched to a small roller to get a smooth finish.

The most annoying and time consuming part was painting between all the slats! Took me about one hour to complete and I only did one coat since it isn't a super-visible spot. I did it between coats on the top so the final top coat would be smooth.

Then I let it sit inside for a few days to cure as much as possible. It takes a full 30 days for the paint to cure, but it is perfectly usable after just a few hours of drying! Usually with Chalk Paint® you would finish it with with the Soft Wax, but the wax is not good for outdoor use so I skipped this step. I have another project in the works where I will show the wax!

I moved the table outside after a few days of indoor curing (simply no space in the condo for a big table!), but I am just being careful with placing things on it and wiping up any water until the paint has fully cured (which will probably take longer with the humidity). One day, about a week or two after it went outside, it poured and the table got soaked, but it all wiped right up and the table looked good as new! FYI- the plants are only on here for the photos :)

I'm not going to lie- I love love love how the table turned out! It is a million times better than the weather-beaten wood! I also love the chalky finish- usually people use this type of paint for a distressed look, but I think it really comes off as modern with a clean, smooth finish.

I even set up the table for a meal. I really want to eat out here now that I have such a pretty table to eat off of! Especially with my new plates (which I got after taking these photos). Though I will be careful with the candles to avoid another wax incident!

If you are interested in Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan, check out and go to the retailers tab. Some retailers offer online shopping, so you should be able to get it from wherever you are in Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, or the UK. It isn't a discount paint, but it goes a long way- I used only about 2/3 of a quart to do the whole table.

In the meantime, you should check out the book Quick and Easy Paint Transformations by Annie Sloan. It gives all sorts of tips on painting furniture and different techniques to try- you don't even need Chalk Paint® to try them (though it is recommended)!

And for one lucky reader, you can enter here for a FREE copy of Quick and Easy Paint Transformations! Just enter in the Rafflecopter box below and tell me what project you would tackle first and with which colour from the Chalk Paint® collection!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This contest is open to residents of Canada and the United States and will run until end of day on Wednesday, July 23rd.

Disclaimer: The paint for this project was provided by Annie Sloan Unfolded. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Casey Gets Fit: Week 20

Current Weight: 151.0 lbs (14 lbs lost overall)
BMI: 23.6

I know this shows a 1lbs increase from last week, but I really thought last week was a crazy drop that wasn't accurate. So I am not mad at all at 151! I also had a couple cheat days this week #shh.

So in big news- boot camp ended! I went for 6 weeks and all 12 classes (there was one rain day that we made up at the end too). Going to be kind of weird not going this week as I really enjoyed getting my butt kicked at boot camp, but alas, I need more time to focus on my running because my 15km race is only a month away!

Now a couple weeks ago I got some comments that I should be doing measurements to really see the changes in my body (vs weight, which can fluctuate a lot). I totally agree, I just forget to measure myself a lot! However I do have a few measurements that I will share today- the beginning, about a month before boot camp, and after boot camp!

  Feb 20th Apr 28th July 12th
Weight 165 157.8 151
Bust 38.5 36.5 36.5
Ribs 34 32 31
Natural Waist 32.5 30.5 30
Waist at Belly Button 39 37 35
Hips 40 39 38
Butt 42 40.5 39
Thigh 22 22 21
Calf 14 14 13.5
Upper Arms 12 12 11.5

I think the biggest difference is in my belly- 4 inches of flab gone! I 100% can notice this in the mirror too! I'm also excited to see my thighs are finally starting to shrink- I think boot camp is to thank for that. Especially last class, which seemed especially devoted to my thighs and butt.

So what am I going to do now with boot camp over? Well I have a plan! I am going to be running 3-4 days a week to get myself ready for my 15km (adding 1km every week to my long run at this point. I am currently up to 12km). And my building is starting up free yoga classes on Tuesdays, so I am going to hit that up. And then I hope to fit in one good strength workout every week so I don't lose all the progress I made at boot camp. I can actually do 5-10 real push ups, which was unheard of 6 weeks ago. I can also hold plank pretty easily for a full minute. I think my once a week workout will look like this:
- 25 push ups
- 50 crunches
- 25 lunge jumps (on each leg)
- 25 squat jumps
- 10 burpees
- 25 bicep curls (on each arm)
- 1 min plank

Though, I will probably switch up the moves every now and again!

Now, of course, the biggest problem I have to deal with is the ol' body shrinking is clothing- so many of my clothes are baggy on me now! And I have nice clothes, that I spent good money on :(. However, it is pretty fun to slowly replace all those size 12/14s with size 10s! And it is fun to put on the shorts that were a little tight last year and find them sliding off my hips. 

I should say- the other day I bought a skirt that was a little too small on me, which is usually a HUGE no-no, but I am pretty confident that after 5 months of sticking to this diet & exercise plan fitting into that skirt is not a matter of "if", but "when"!

Friday, July 11, 2014

New Plates!

I have discussed many times on here that I have a recent obsession with buying pretty bowls. What I don't think I have mentioned is that I keep finding pretty bowls to buy when I am in fact looking for pretty plates.

Back up to January 2009 for a minute. I was moving into an apartment with my friend Ginny and we needed basically everything for a kitchen. We hit up a Kitchen Stuff Plus Outlet and bought a whole whack of things, including a set of white dishes with black roses on them. I think we got the whole set for $60 (big plates, side plates, pasta bowls, teacups, and saucers). I have had those plates ever since.

They were okay, but quite a few had chips and the flower was fading and honestly I got bored of them. Hence why I have been slowly transitioning out of them with new bowls and plates! I thought it would be fun to have non-matching plates for once and I have really enjoyed hunting down new pieces. Kind of sad that I am almost done (you're next, pasta bowls!).

I am almost done with my great plate hunt because on Thursday I hit up HomeSense and scored me some new plates! I had often been looking for colourful, patterned plates like my bowls, but realized that a plainer white plate would probably be better suited to making my food look good and coordinating with my older dishes. Except I can't resist a little pattern, so I was happy to find these large white plates with a subtle silver flower design on them for $5 each! Plus they are bone china (which I just googled and found out is actually made of bones. Just lovely...).

But then, as I was about to leave feeling victorious in my plate-finding abilities, I stumbled across these beautiful aqua salad plates. I love salad plates because they are somewhere between a large dinner plate and a side plate and usually all the plate I need for 80% of my meals. For some reason this size (8"-9") is hard to track down. I loved these plates and they remind me simultaneously of the beach, geodes, and all things pretty. They all seem slightly different from each other too, which is fun. $15 for 4!!

They look great layered together too, if I ever got around to hosting a fancy dinner party with layered plates. See what I mean about how white plates can be a good idea? They go with everything!

So now I have completed my plate collection as I have 4 dinner plates, 4 salad plates, and 4 side plates (and about a million bowls). I can't wait to eat off these puppies! Somehow I feel like will make my food taste better.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Pannier in my Neck

Now, I often show a clean home on the blog. But people who know me in real life know that I am kind of messy. They also know that upon entering my condo there is usually stuff lining the front hall- bags of donation clothes, things to go to the locker, random shopping hallway is basically my junk closet. Recently, I also got some pannier bags (or saddle bags, whatever you call them), for my bike.

They are great for toting around a change of clothes and my purse on the rare days I bike to the office (boot camp has basically eliminated my butts & legs ability to bike much lately!). However you cannot leave panniers attached to your bike 24/7 because they will probably get stolen #torontoproblems. Interesting side note- my building has indoor bike lock-up area in our visitors parking area and someone recently had their tire stolen- from inside our building!!!

Since I remove the bags when not in use, they have joined the hallway clutter. Not cool. There really isn't a good spot in the front hall closet either so I needed to get a little creative in getting them off the ground- I hung them from my yellow shelving unit!

Now, I do apologize for the lighting in this photo- my front hall light needs some bulbs replaced and I have been a lazy Casey :)

Setting it up was very easy- I bought some cheap one-armed drunk octopus hooks from Canadian Tire and measured it out so they would be centered and level. It does look a little bit like one bag sits higher in the above photo, but that is because one bag's handle lost it's comfort grip.

The stool that used to sit to one side of this shelving unit has been relegated to the locker for now (truthfully, it is in the "go to the locker" pile in the hall out of range of this shot- shhh). The stool was only being used to hold my purse, however, so I think it was time to get rid of it. With only 400 sq ft in this place I can't afford to have furniture designated solely for purse-holding.

Overall, this shelving unit is pulling a lot of the load for storage in the front hall, but I use it constantly and I really like having my stuff handy! If only I could figure out how to make the actual closet more useful...

Monday, July 7, 2014

Casey Gets Fit: Week 19

Current Weight: 150.0 lbs (15 lbs lost overall!!!!)
BMI: 23.5 I am not exactly sure what happened here but the scale said I weighed 150 on the dot Sunday morning- which means I hit 15 pounds lost since Feb!! I am fairly certain it will bounce up a little next week because I have a hard time believing it after almost 5 months of grueling slow weight loss. Like my body woke up this week and was like "oh, you want to lose weight? I just thought you were taking a break from french fries! Sure we can lose some weight!"

Anyway, another reason I think it is a tad lower than usual is that I was sick with a migraine Saturday night and threw up and was generally no fun. So I think Sunday morning I was probably dehydrated and malnourished or something. I plan to make up for that :)

The reason for the migraine is, of course, too much fun on Saturday! I met up with a friend and a couple of people she knew for lunch at a Mexican Restaurant (El Catrin) in the Distillery District. It was also a big Cuban festival down there this weekend with lots of Cuban food and Cuba libres :) It was so much fun! We had sangria and mojitos with freshly made guacamole at the restaurant, then wandered around drinking some yummy drinks and delicious Cuban sandwiches.

After too much sun and drinks, I headed home for a nap and ended up sleeping for 2 hours which is NEVER a good idea. Woke up groggy and headed out to watch one of Cam's friends, who had a gig at a local bar. I tried to eat some dinner, but I just started feeling worse and worse and eventually we headed home where I proceeded to be sick, stuff myself with drugs, and go to bed at 8pm. Sigh! 

Anyways, on Sunday I woke up feeling great so I went for a 11km run!! My 15 km race is coming up in just 6 or so weeks so my goal right now is to add 1km onto my Sunday long run every week. Let me tell ya, that last km was TOUGH. These legs need a lot more training before I am ready for that race!

Sunday afternoon was a pool party and pizza at my Mom's house! I had full plans to enjoy that pizza seeing as how I threw up all my cheat food on Saturday and I ran a bajillion kilometres on Sunday morning, and while I didn't gorge on pizza, I sure did get my fill of nachos and cheese as an appetizer! Dieting is all about moderation ;) (ps- I feel I need to add in here that you should never ever ever throw up food unless you are legit sick. I really don't want anyone thinking I did that on purpose).

I am so happy to be at 15 pounds down and I am so grateful to February Casey for finally getting her butt in gear and actually sticking with a diet! After nearly 5 months it has become so routine to me to stick to my calorie and workout goals (with the odd cheat meal) and I know that I will continue to slowly burn off a few more pounds. 145 is my goal and I hope to hit that by the end of summer and then I will need to reevaluate my plan and how I want to go forward from there! 

So far this diet has been all about moderation, but that feels good because I am not missing out on delicious things and my weight is slowly coming down. 15 lbs lost is pretty amazing to me! I don't think I would have gotten this far with just salads and chicken!

Liz Lemon gets it

Friday, July 4, 2014

Pillow Talk

I was out on the balcony watering the plants (the dying plants, to be precise) last night when I noticed that my newest throw pillow wasn't doing so hot in its new outdoor life.

See how the bottom corner colour is all muddled looking? Not good! I am actually not entirely sure what caused it (sun bleach, water, colour-stealing gnomes etc), but it certainly wasn't fixable so I just threw the cover out. It actually kind of worked out because I had been hankering to do some sewing for a couple weeks now, but couldn't think of a good project- now I had one!

I decided to see if I could cobble something together with the fabric scraps I got from Tonic Living last December. Most of the pieces are awkward triangles or narrow strips so I decided to go with a bit of a striped look and piece together some strips. I used some heavy navy and brown fabrics, paired with a sample of Vintage Blossom in Dove (such a pretty fabric!).

There is no tutorial here...I didn't even measure or pin anything because I am lazy and like to wing sewing projects (hence why I gave up on doing real patterns). In fact, I didn't even pre-wash the fabric. I won't even show you how bad my fast hand-stitching along the side was. #bloggersecrets

However it was pretty simple- I sewed three strips together to make the front piece and three together for the back piece, and then I just sewed the two pieces together on three sides, stuffed my pillow in and stitched it closed. Very easy!

I am not sure how long this pillow will actually hold up with the weather as this chair does get some of the elements on it, but considering it was free and fun to do I don't mind replacing it if I find some nice outdoor fabric I like better!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day Everyone (even if you aren't Canadian)!

I had Monday off as a surprise from work, so I am enjoying day 4 of an extra-long weekend today, working on a project that you will see up here in a couple weeks! Are you celebrating this day in any way? I might go in search of fireworks, but I heard it is supposed to thunderstorm so perhaps I will just cuddle up at home instead :)
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