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#ThatCleanLife

29 Jul

I have a dairy allergy. Consequently I also love food. These two things have always been in battle with each other as I walked away from my food loves including ice cream and pizza.

At the time I figured out I had an allergy there were so few options available to me for alternatives. Soy products at the time were terrible and I just wanted to cry at the thought of having a slice of pizza again. Slowly but surely my options expanded and after discovering goat cheese was agreeable with me, I began to start to enjoy food again. But as time passed and our lives became busier, we got into the routine of meat, starch, vegetable growing old. Safe, but boring.

In October 2013 we moved to a new city. This change had us super busy and resort to some not so great eating habits. (FYI dairy free does not equal healthy!) Come January 1st as many people do, we swore up and down we were going to get into a better eating and fitness routine.

Sure enough The Husband and I hit the gym January 2nd and never looked back. While our workouts were not necessarily the same, the fact that there was motivation to get off the couch after a long day of work was great. Also a great way to spend some time together and blow off some steam.

A couple of weeks into this new routine I started to pay more attention to a friend of mine posting recipes and promoting a new e-book she was creating. That friend is the lovely @abigailkeeso . Abigail went through some health issues of her own that resulted in her turning her eating habits upside down. The results were far beyond just looking good, she started to improve her overall health. So much so that she wanted to start sharing this new way of living with others.

I had known she was doing this for a while, but I was skeptical to jump on the boat because I’m not a dieter. I love food, I love going out to dinner but the idea of not only having a dairy allergy but also doing some other fad diet was just not my cup of tea. As it turns out I was wrong wrong wrong to have thought this was a “diet”.

Technically any habit of eating would be considered a diet. My dairy free way of eating would be considered that, as would be the case if I was addicted to Pop Tarts and was willing to risk getting scurvy to pursue an exclusive Pop Tart diet.

SO when you consider eating being a diet in and of itself TECHNICALLY That Clean Life is a diet. HOWEVER, I quickly learned this is not some get slim fast gimmick or a meal plan that ultimately lets you down because it only consisted of eating air for 2 of 3 meals a day.

That Clean Life for me was about expanding my menu options to have a super healthy delicious repertoire of foods that I could eat that were dairy free. At least that’s how it started. The first “challenge” started in February. The challenge was a way for people to exclusively try clean foods and try and cut out some of the garbage you’d become used to eating. The word challenge can be intimidating, but as it turned out the food was SO good that I could hardly call it a challenge. I kid you not, even knowing what was in my food I loved it so much I felt guilty eating it afterwards convinced someone snuck in an added something un-clean to it.

Not only that but the e-books are very well put together. Easy to follow grocery lists, recipes and instructions make following the plan to a tee SUPER easy. This is clean eating for dummies. (But you’re not a dummy, you’re eating well. That’s a good choice.)

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Brown rice penne with portobello mushrooms and spinach. Drooling yet?

The Husband was fully supportive of trying new foods as he too had become tired of our weekly meals. Day after day another delicious meal was prepared and the level of satisfaction increased steadily. We never felt like we were giving up anything in order to eat this way, in fact we were just benefiting from the satisfaction of eating well.

After the first challenge was over we continued to repeat the recipes over and over again. The recipes just weren’t getting old. Then challenge after challenge presented itself and we continued to participate but also learn about how to cook other foods in a way that was just way better for you.

It wasn’t long before I realized that 95% of my meals and snacks that were consumed during non-challenge times were from That Clean Life e-books or meals I began to prepare using the clean eating knowledge I obtained. This was the food I started to crave. I’d be jammed on the subway dreaming about my pre-run almond butter and banana snack (that is a lethal combo BTW). I also learned to grow my culinary confidence. From someone who was once teased about not knowing where the kitchen was in my apartment ( I DID OK, IT WAS A JOKE!) to someone who was preparing meals that The Husband and I deemed as restaurant quality in their taste. My feathers started to puff. I became hooked.

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Homemade quinoa sushi.

Eventually the combination of our clean eating and excercise efforts began to show themselves. By the time the Canada Day long weekend rolled around I was able to confidently sport a bathing suit on the beach. Even with my diet radically changing with my dairy allergy, I still hadn’t hit the sweet spot where I felt like I was in the physical shape I wanted to be in. These two things helped me get there 100%.

Do I eat clean ALL of the time? No. I will say though that good meal prep makes getting through the work week really easy. But I do indulge, mostly on weekends. But I’m finding as more time passes though indulgences become less and less and I’m attracted to healthy, clean treats instead of something not so good for me. Will I eat a Churros if I discover it’s dairy free? Heck ya. But that’s once in a while and I’m conscious of not going down a slippery slope that will ultimately make me feel just plain gross again.

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Strawberry rhubarb oatmeal bake. IS A BREAKFAST ITEM. You’ll think you’re being punk’d this is so good.

That Clean Life has opened my eyes to a new way of eating. One where you can eat good food, be full, and share it with your friends, something that so many gimmicky diets boast they can do but don’t deliver on.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t EASY. Despite being really delicious and healthy food, there is WORK involved in making it. Meal planning, meal prep, workouts. These things all take time and dedication and it’s easy to throw in the towel and say you don’t have time, but you can make time and I promise it’s worth it.

So go over to That Clean Life and see what it’s all about!

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The Biggest Day Downtown

3 Sep

We have absolutely loved participating in the Downtown Halifax Business Commission’s Big Day Downtown and were thrilled to be invited back again this Summer.

The kickoff happened at the super secret underground bar ‘Noble’ located underneath The Middle Spoon. At Noble we picked out three adventure-themed cards to help guide our big day.

We selected Exotic, Fun and Cheerful.

cards

With the task at hand and a $150 Visa we were ready to get started!

We picked a beautiful sunny Saturday to take on Downtown Halifax and we kicked things off at Parade Square where we took in some of the Dog Days of Summer event. Sylvia was interviewing the doggie stars of Neptune Theatre’s Legally Blonde and those little furballs were exactly what we needed to set the tone for an amazing day.

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The Dog Days of Summer were jam packed with the most adorable four legged friends you’ve ever seen sporting some seriously awesome outfits. We’re talking dogs in tutu’s, dogs in biker gear, dogs in bowties. They were very well dressed and very adorable.

Category: Cheerful, Fun, Some were exotic!

From there we headed down to Bishop’s Cellar to enjoy an afternoon wine tasting. If you didn’t already know, Bishop’s Cellar offers a free wine tasting from 11am – 1pm every Saturday!

In addition to drinking all the wine, we gave ourselves the mission of picking out wines for each other that we thought we might enjoy. This being a relatively easy task because as long as the word WINE is on the label we will drink it. We found some amazing wines with super fun labels all under $25.00!

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As it turned out Sylvia’s Mom happened to be in Bishop’s Landing so she joined us for the rest of our adventure!

Category: VERY cheerful, fun and exotic!

Following the great time at Bishop’s Cellar the team was feeling the need for a snack and let’s be honest, more wine. We decided to stop by A Mano for a lovely lunch on the patio. Bishop’s Landing has so much to offer, and it means that we could go from our wine tasting to lunch in just a few steps, the beauty of spending a Saturday downtown Halifax.
We were greeted at A Mano by the always friendly and cheerful staff, they set us up on the patio. We ordered a number of dishes to share, including two types of a pizza and a few starters. And of course we enjoyed some wine from A Mano’s lengthy wine list.
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Our server took great care of us, and returned quickly with our snacks and drinks. We have a great time, and I can assure you we will be back again soon.
Category: Exotic, cheerful and oh so fun!

So what do you do after a delicious meal of pizza and wine? You get a treat! (Obviously). Luckily for us, A Mano is conveniently located only a few steps from one of Halifax’s finest purveyors of sugar… Sugah! Gourmet chocolate bars (hello Maple Crusted Dark Chocolate bar… nice to finally meet you), ice cream, vintage candies to remind you of your younger years – how can you not have fun in a place that’s wall-to-wall sweet stuff? Great selection, helpful staff, (and animal-friendly). Sugah, we like you a whole lot.

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Category: Cheerful and fun! 

Talk about exotic and fun! Joel loves cigars. He loves that they’re handmade with care and attention to every detail and really loves the variety and particular flavours and aromas of each one. And most importantly Joel loves Paul Stulac’s Smoke on the Water in Bishop’s Landing.

The store features a large walk-in humidor, with a wide selection cigar brands. There are plenty of Cubans, including the famous Cohiba and Partagas lines, and lots of cigars from other major producers like Nicaragua and Honduras.

The only problem with Smoke on the Water really isn’t its own fault. The prices are high. In Canada, tobacco (whether it’s in cheap cigarettes or fine premium handmade cigars) is levied with huge taxes, making cigars far more expensive than the U.S. (but comparable to other countries with socialized medicine like England and Australia). But, they’re worth every penny.

Each cigar provides well over an hour of relaxation, and time to spend with one’s self or with friends, enjoying the product of a handmade process. From the planting of the tobacco plants, to the picking, to the fermentation, to the selection of the various parts (the filler leaves, binder leaves, and wrapper leaves), to the masterful rolling, every single premium cigar has been handmade.

The proprietor of Smoke on the Water, Rodney, is knowledgeable and passionate about cigars. With his help, Joel picked out a few cigars for the group, including a delightful Punch and a CAO LX2.

cigars

Later that afternoon Joel enjoyed his LX2 and thought about the wonderful day spent with his best friends enjoying the fantastic sites, sounds, and stores of Downtown Halifax.

Category: Fun, Exotic

Another HUGE thank you to the Downtown Halifax Business Commission for letting us loose in Downtown Halifax! We enjoyed one of the most cheerful, exotic and fun days in recent memory!

Legally Blonde – So Amazing It Might Be Illegal!

12 May

Recently we had the pleasure of going to see Legally Blonde The Musical playing at Neptune Theatre.

We love going to Neptune Theatre and after the stellar season they’ve had, I had high hopes for the musical adaptation of one of my favourite movies.

Neptune Theatre did Elf some serious justice, but I was still a bit nervous given my love for Legally Blonde the movie, and the fact that it wasn’t a musical. WELL. I’ve learned again to never doubt Neptune Theatre. Within seconds I was thrown into a place of extreme delight. Seriously. I was like a kid at Christmas hanging onto every last note. I smiled and laughed so much I’m pretty sure my face still hurts.

Lindsey Frazier starred as Elle Woods and was so full of spunk and life it was ridiculous. She was over the top in the best possible way and should Reese Witherspoon not be busy arguing with Atlanta Police and had the delight of seeing this play, I think she would agree that Lindsey was Elle Woods to a tee.

The Greek Chorus – which was essentially the imaginary travel version of Delta Nu, was nothing short of hysterical. The girls who made up the Greek Chorus had fantastic songs, hilarious lines and great comedic timing.

greek_chorus

And for the songs. Well, they were nothing short of amazing…and awfully memorable to the point that I can’t stop singing them….

Oh my god, oh my god you guys*, did I mention there were dogs in the play? Real life dogs? In outfits?

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Overall the audience seemed to have a total blast and even in moments that were so insanely ridiculous, people were lapping it up. A lady next to me who I learned at intermission had never even seen the movie was losing her mind laughing with her daughters. Even The Husband was laughing up a storm.

So once again – another amazing production at Neptune Theatre. You just can’t miss this one. Legally Blonde The Musical will be playing at Neptune Theatre until May 26th!

* Oh my god, oh my god you guys. This song is fabulous. Now this isn’t from Neptune Theatre but it is way too fun not to share.

Celebrity Dopplegangers – Mr. D Edition

10 Jan

They say everyone has a twin, and it turns out that not only celebrity animals have celebrity animal dopplegangers, but real human celebrities do too.

I was watching the Season 2 premiere of Mr. D. and I kept shouting out the various other people that the actors looked like when it dawned on me. Is it a prerequisite to have a fellow famous person as your doppleganger to be a male cast member on Mr. D? This is my theory, let’s see if it holds up.

Gerry Dee (Mr. Duncan) & Jon Dyer

Gerry_Jon

While Jon Dyer may not be a TV star, he is a dead ringer for Gerry Dee. In the summer I was driving down Spring Garden Rd. when I thought I spotted my old friend Jon Dyer walking down the street. I wave, and I see that he is waving back… only when I get closer it turns out it’s Gerry Dee. Facepalm. To make things stranger, I turn the corner and who do I see? THE REAL JON DYER.

It’s important to note that Jon Dyer and Mr. D’s share the same favourite epic dance song, Walk Like an Egyptian. I don’t think I need to go on to confirm that Mr. Duncan & Jon Dyer are not only physical dopplegangers, but emotional ones too. A DNA test may need to be done.

Darrin Rose (Bill) & Jason Sudeikis

jason

This one has been bothering me for quite some time. Luckily, since Jason Sudeikis has been all over Perez Hilton this holiday season, I was able to put my finger on this on Monday.

You cannot tell me that Darrin Rose & Jason Sudeikis are not IDENTICAL TWINS. And since there is no information on Darrin Rose’s birthday on the Internet I’m willing to bet that they share the same birthday, if they are in fact not actually the same person. Now the real question – WHICH ONE OF THEM IS IN THAT COFFEE COMMERCIAL?

Booth Savage (Principal Callaghan) & Patrick Duffy

stepbystep

If you’ve ever watched TGIF you know that Patrick Duffy played the Dad in Step By Step. It needs to be noted that my research partner initially felt that Erika Estrada was the obvious doppleganger. I will let you draw your own conclusions on that one.

Jonathan Torrens (Robert Cheeley) & Ellen Degeneres

ellen

At first Jonathan Torrens thought that only his daughter confused him for Ellen Degeneres, but as it turns out – so does everyone else. With heads of flowing blonde hair and Twitter accounts that never fail to provide laughs, it’s easy to confuse these two.

Wes Williams (Paul Dwyer) & Milt Stegall

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While my knowledge of celebrities may appear limitless, sports celebrities are a particular area of weakness for me. Enter research assistant who instantly identified Xavier’s favourite teacher Mr. Dwyer as the doppleganger of Milt Steegal. Former CFL Line Receiver, and current TV football analyst. And while I am not familiar with Stegall’s work, I can confirm that he and Mr. Dwyer are in fact face twins.

Mark Little (Simon) & Kevin McHale

artie

Mark & Kevin have more in common than just their looks. They also spend much of their time on camera in high schools. And given that Mark is a member of the comedy troop Picnicface, I can only assume that he would challenge McHale (Artie from Glee) in a dance off any day of the week.

Mark Forward (Mr. Leung) & Dion Phaneuf 

dion

This was a tricky one, which Mark should use to his advantage. He’s a bit of a chameleon. We searched through images of various celebrities that we felt could be his doppleganger. My research assistant strongly believes that Mark’s #1 doppleganger is Brett Favre circa 1990, however, you try searching for images of Brett Favre on Google without throwing up in your mouth a little. As a result we went for the obvious second choice, Dion Phaneuf.

Suresh John (Malik) & Maharishi Mahesh

beatles

This was another easy one for my research assistant to identify. Being an avid Beatles fan, he quickly figured out that Suresh John looks just like the Beatles famous Yogi Maharishi Mahesh who was the inspiration behind the epic album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Certainly not a bad guy to be mistaken for.

Brian Bannan (Jeff Lemire) & Chris Carmack

chris

Although it appears as though Brian Bannan hails from Canada, he might as well be an Orange County import. If he were to have punched Ryan in the face in the first season of The OC we would have been none the wiser.

Given the remarkable resembles of these lads, I’m going to go ahead and say that my theory is correct. All male cast members of Mr. D. do in fact have fellow actor dopplegangers.

**Photos borrowed from CBC.com, Google Images, and Jon Dyer Himself.

Holiday Treats – The Dairy-Free-Style Remix

2 Dec

It is December which means we can finally spread Christmas cheer by singing loudly for all to hear!

But while we are spreading Christmas cheer we often tend to be eating lots of treats that are often filled with copious amounts of dairy.

For kids like myself who can no longer enjoy the fruits of cows’s milk this can be a really frustrating time of year. You can remember the delicious taste of eggnog, the melt in your mouth deliciousness of your Mother-In-Law’s shortbread cookie recipe, and yet you can partake in none of it!

Thankfully there are more options than ever to get snacking this holiday season, and a lot of them taste AS GOOD as the real thing.

I just wanted to share some of my favourite alternatives for holidays treats that us dairy-free folks can enjoy:

– Starbucks Soy Peppermint Mocha: I had no idea but there is no dairy in the chocolate syrup used to make a Soy Peppermint Mocha. So go ahead – enjoy one of these holiday favourites without fear!

– Cheese Platters: I love cheese. Always have, always will. Delicious goat cheese options make a great a good alternative to traditional cheese plats. Goats cheese cranberry logs, goats brie, goats mozza can all be put together on a plate for a delicious appy for holiday guests.

– Shortbread Cookies: This is my ultimate holiday weakness. Take your favourite shortbread recipe and replace the regular butter with goats milk butter or lactose free margarine. Last year I tried the lactose free margarine version and they didn’t quite cut it. This year I made the goats milk version and certain members of my household couldn’t even tell the difference from mine to their Mom’s own!

– Hot Chocolate: Thankfully marshmallows are dairy free. But what good is a marshmallow without a hot cup of cocoa to accompany it? Delicious and not so bad for you version. 1 cup of coconut milk mixed with 1 tsp of cocoa. The coconut milk is sweet enough that you don’t even need to add any sugar. Whisk together, throw in a marshmallow and enjoy!

And last but not least. Egg Nog. There are some dairy free alternatives that you can enjoy if you have a hankering for egg nog. The two I’ve found locally are Noel Nog (Almond Milk Based) and Soy Nog. Both of which taste pretty darn good although not QUITE authentic. Add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg to the top and you will find your treat tasting a bit closer to the original.

So there you have it. My ideas for a dairy free holiday season!! If you have any other ideas let’s hear them!

Neptune Theatres’ Bingo!

22 Oct

In my humble opinion Facebook has ruined High School Reunions. Gone are the days when you would count down the months until the time when you could get dolled up and wow everyone with how amazing your life has turned out. Or go Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion style and lie and say you invented Post-It’s. Either way the fact checking was hard to do because Facebook wasn’t chronicling your every move.

So as I approach my 10 year High School Reunion, Bingo! brought me back to a time when High School Reunions really could be a time to well, reunite.

Bingo! Chronicles the night of a 30 year high school reunion of a group of friends from Cape Breton. Many bevy’s are had and stories told, love is found, love is lost, and most importantly the audience gets to laugh their faces off.

 

Marty Burt who played high school stud “Dookie” was the kind of guy you loved to hate. In fact we aren’t entirely sure we like him at all after watching that convincing performance. Marty Burt was fantastic in Mrs. Parliament’s Night Out and didn’t disappoint in Bingo!.

Ryan Rogerson, Emmy Alcorn and John Beale were all charasmatic and entertaining but Heather Rankin absolutely steals the show as Bitsy. Aside from being jealous about how jacked her arms looked the whole time, she was able to tug on your heartstrings and make you laugh hysterically as Bitsy tries to figure herself out all this time after high school.

This hilarious and heartwarming journey of a few friends reuniting was certainly not tainted by modern technologies like Facebook, which I’m sure Dookie is pretty, pretty thankful for.

Check out Bingo! at Neptune Theatre from October 16th – November 4th, 2012!

Atlantic Fashion Week in Review

13 Jun

This past week we were invited to attend Atlantic Fashion Week. We were very excited to join the Halifax fashion community and watch local designers, both up-and-coming and well-established, show their latest collections.

We saw some great things (and some crazy things) over the two evenings of showcases and we have lots to write about, but instead of reviewing each collection and designer, we thought we’d give you our top 10 moments.

In general, I think we’re in agreement that the Emerging Designers Showcase knocked it out of the park. Everyone was great, but we had some favorites:

– The Collection Project by the First Year students at the Centre for Arts and Technology  was very, very good. It was well put together and looked like stuff that you might conceivably wear out of your house in Halifax without eliciting too many WTFs.

Once you get past the fuzziness of the photo itself, the look is actually pretty cute.

–  BEC fashions brought out the cute summery looks with a little bit of edge to them. I could not believe this girl is still a student. The lines on the clothes were fantastic and obviously took some mad skill to produce.

– Eman Mustafa – This girl seems really cool, and some of the pieces she showed were just fabulous. With a consistent pleated theme, the clothes were unique, colorful, fun, and young – all those good things that fashion should be.

One of our favorite looks from Eman Mustafa, as modelled by one of our favorite models who we nick-named Swifty due to her resemblance to Taylor Swift.

– Getting to see some fabulous local fashion bloggers – Fashion bloggers are arguably the trendiest people on the planet, and we were definitely seated amongst some Halifax fashion royalty with L-A from FPQT, Mo Handahu from Clutch Culture and Curvy Geekery, Short Presents, Love, Lust & What I Wore, and some of the team from Fashion East Halifax all in the mix (just to mention a few).

I headed to the Emerging Designers Showcase straight from a work conference. I was suited up in my “desk-job” attire and didn’t have time to change. Needless to say, I felt sufficiently out-glammed by every other attendee, including the bar-tending staff.

– Smashing preconceived notions – I guess I hadn’t really put much thought into what the designer behind the Overman line of body jewellery would look like, but when PEI-based Matt Bowness poked his head out from behind the curtain after his wares went down the runway, I will admit I was surprised – and very impressed with all the intricate and interesting pieces in his collection.

One of the many cool looks from Overman

For the Designer Showcase, these were the high-notes for us:

– The collection by Dreamboat Lucy was pretty, pretty good. Ok fine – it was awesome. Dreamboat Lucy won the Mercedes-Benz Atlantic Startup and there is no question why. So many of the looks were totally wearable (minus the brown bodysuit – but hey if you can pull that off picking up your groceries, then be our guest!!) and the designers are an adorable sister duo. Seriously kick-ass stuff.

– Seeing Veronica MacIsaac’s Vogue Italia-featured gown in real life. Gorgeous.

– Sebastian Bladgon’s absolute mind-f#%k of a collection. It really was wearable art. These are not the garments you’re wearing to pick up your child from soccer practice (if you did – you’d scare the ever-loving crap of every child in a 10-mile radius), but it’s certainly awe-inspiring work and very impressive that Sebastian can envision and execute such a gloriously bizarre show, and also model his own work.

Dark whimsy at its finest

– The Models. While I hate to say we are still living in an age where seeing every bone in a model’s body is still somehow considered attractive, there was a great mix of girls who actually looked like they might indulge in a cheeseburger from time to time. And guess what – the clothes still looked super hot on them too! We love food. We love models who love food.

– Lastly, Atlantic Canada had some sneaky fashion skills tucked up their puffy sleeves! It used to be that us poor East Coasters got the tail end of trends that would spill out of Toronto and Montreal, but not any more. The amount of talent shown at these two events was beyond impressive and based on the attention these designers are getting world-wide, it’s obvious that there is some trend setting going on!

Huge thanks to the organizers of Atlantic Fashion Week for inviting us to take in this great event!

Basically all of our images from the Designer show-case night turned out blurry (this is what happens when your only camera is actually a phone), but check out Denis Duquette’s album for some great photos of the night.