get ready for 2017

Of course we know that January is the mark of a New Year. That means the gyms will be packed and people will change their eating habits. For some it will last, but for many it likely won’t. If you weren’t set on these changes at the beginning of December then chances are you don’t really care to succeed in these goals. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that only you know when you’re ready to make a lifestyle change. Working out and eating better are great goals for the new year, but they require a big commitment.

Below I will share some ideas on changes you can make for the new year. These will not only benefit you; but they’ll benefit the people around you as well. After I’ll share what my news years resolution is and how writing this post will help to keep me accountable through out 2017.

First thing to consider is speaking with standards. I mean a few things by this. Stick to your morals and use your words to express yourself. Be honest with your thoughts and your opinions. Keep in mind you should be able to justify your reasoning for why you think or feel a certain way. I’m not suggesting you blurt out, or preach your beliefs on other people. You do need to think before you speak. Don’t go out of your way to offend others but remember to stick to your word. You are entitled to have certain views and shouldn’t have to worry about what others think of your opinion – but be prepared to back up your thoughts with logical and factual points. Say what you mean. But on the other hand, avoid speaking down on other people or spreading negativity to those around you. Not only does this make you look like a total goof, but you’re killin’ the positive vibes of anyone in your presence.

This ties into another thing to try in the new year. Don’t take stuff personally. What other people think and what other people do is a reflection of themselves. If someone doesn’t agree with the way you live, how you dress, or anything else that means something to you – that is fine. Let it go. You don’t owe anyone any justification. Of course you have the right to stand your ground and fight for your rights; but you don’t need to feel down or like you need to show someone up because they believe in something different than you. Sure it’s great to be an advocate, but don’t take it personal if someone doesn’t share the same mindset as you.

Stop making assumptions. Nothing is worse than thinking you know something and turning out to be wrong. Communicate and ask questions instead. Nothing is worse than experiencing sadness, drama or a misunderstanding because you decided to assume something. Making assumptions is basically making an excuse for yourself (or others). Be courageous, ask questions and go out of your way to get the facts and the right information yourself instead of through someone else.

And lastly, try harder. This of course sounds easier than it is. You might think you’re giving it your all. But if you’ve been giving it your all and it’s not working for you – try something else. Take a break and think about what you’ve done and how you can take a new approach. When you know you’ve given it your all and done your best, you will avoid regret, self-abuse and putting unnecessary pressure on yourself.

So hopefully you can read beyond the tiny bit of contradiction in this post. Use your head, you’re smarter than you think. The key take aways are in bold for a reason – they’re not as difficult as you think.

As for my new years resolution.. I want to stick out blogging twice a week for an entire year. I pretty much post on Mondays and Fridays. But I really started to post consistently in September 2016. Now I hope that I can keep it up until September 2017. Then I can reevaluate this whole blogging thing.

cooking for one // chicken quesadilla

I often buy the pre-cooked rotisserie chicken’s from the grocery store when I pick up chicken. I find the chicken to be full of flavour and find that the value for my money is pretty good. I get bored of the same old boneless chicken breast, so this has been a good go to grocery item. There is also so much that can be done with these! I use the chicken for salads, soups, meals and for cooking stir fry and other recipes. One of my favourite ways to use up this meat is by putting together this quick n’ easy quesadilla.

First, I cut up red peppers and onions into little chunks. I then add a tiny bit of olive oil and some roasted garlic and red pepper seasoning to the frying pan. I like to fry these lightly, but still manage to let them to soften up a bit. Once the pepper and onion is tender I will add the pieces of chicken to the mix.

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In the mean time, I have already shred up some marble cheese. I prefer using corn tortillas rather than the flour ones lately. In another pan I put down the tortilla and then quickly add the mix of onion, pepper, chicken and seasoning on top of the corn tortilla. Then I top it off with the shredded cheese. Finish it off by adding the other tortilla on top and flipping it. Once the tortillas are brown on both sides and the cheese is melted, they are done!

Sometimes I will open it up and add some hot salsa right in, but sometimes I like to dip. Salsa and sour cream are the best with these chicken quesadillas.

the start of my invisalign journey

Alright, so I am writing this on the second full day of having my Invisalign trays in. My teeth are tender.. and I had steak for dinner the first night of having them in (wtf). But first.. how about we back this up a bit? I will get you caught up on the process of getting my aligners (aka trays) in. Alright, so late last month I went to have my impressions and photos done which were then sent off to the Invisalign lab where they created a mock up of what my teeth. They can show you what your teeth should look like after you go through all the aligners. Your “case” is pretty much what they call your Invisalign journey. I’ve got about 30 aligners to do and will switch to a new aligner every two weeks.

After the initial consultation the next step is having the impressions done. This wasn’t horrible but I would be lying if I said I enjoyed it. The dental assistant and the dentist use two different type of mixtures to create two different sets of impressions for both the bottom and lower teeth. This gives them a good idea of your entire mouth. The first set of impressions took 30 seconds each. The second set of impressions took three minutes each. Unfortunately, I had to redo the second set of impressions which took a bit longer than it could have. After the impressions, the dentist took a ton of photos using an DSLR camera. These photos included the inside of my mouth. They got these by using a mirror to get the reflection and took photos from side angles and the front of angle. They also took photos of me from the side and head on with my mouth closed. Lets just say, I never want to see those photos. However, these photos help Invisalign to create your aligners.

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A couple weeks later I came back for my ClinCheck appointment. ClinCheck offers you and your dentist a visual of how your teeth with change from tray to tray through out your case. It’s neat because if gives you a look at what your teeth should look like after all your aligners are done. The ClinCheck also shows you how many attachments you’ll need and how much IPR you will have to have done – if any.

The attachments are little tooth coloured bumps placed on your teeth. These are strategically positioned and will help assist with the alignment of your teeth. I have what seems like a lot of attachments. Nine on the top and six on the bottom. IPR is essentially shaving the sides of your teeth to create more space for your teeth to move around.

As you can see in the above photo, I’ve prepared myself by putting together a little travel pack. After all, with Invisalign you must take the trays out to eat or drink anything other than water. That being said, you should have them in 22 hours a day for the best results. After eating or drinking, you need to brush, floss and I even mouth wash before putting my trays back in. I’ll continue to post updates here for anyone interested.

product review: next meat subscription box

I’m a sucker for cured meats. I really like hot pepperettes the most. Pepperettes are something I buy regularly from the deli because they are a quick n’ easy snack. I also love the greasy gas station ones that have probably been sitting on the counter for weeks – they are just too good! Next Meat is a Canadian subscription box company that delivers a box filled with packaged cured meats to you. This is a great subscription box for those who host often. You could make a mean charcuterie with their products.

The Next Meat website says each box comes with one of the following to accompany the meat and to enhance your overall experience: crackers, cheese, salt, vinegar, oils or dried vegetables. However, the one I received for review did not. I also didn’t see any additional items mentioned above in their October box. This is higher end subscription service, costing you $47.95CAD per month. That price includes including shipping. No tax. Like most other subscription box services, you can save money by pre-paying for a longer term.

One thing I have learned from this box and from the last food subscription box service I received for review is that I hate the smell of truffle. I like chocolate truffles, but not the fancy truffle seasoning.

The box I received included..

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Preferisco Fennel Salami

Preferisco Truffle Salami

So I actually could tell a difference between this salami and the salami I’ve purchased from the deli at my grocery store. Preferisco’s seemed less greasy, lighter and more fresh. I actually really enjoyed the Fennel Salami, it reminded me of a very mild pepperette. As you know, truffle is just a scent and flavour that I can’t get into. I did try a piece and it was not horrible but I couldn’t eat the entire package (sorry!)

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Spagina Chorizo – Mild

Spagina Chorizo – Hot

So these were kind of cool because this was my first time trying chorizo. This also means I don’t really have any other kind of chorizo to compare it to. It was good, I liked the hot better because I love hot food as you should know by now! Chorizo is great cut up as a snack with cheese and crackers. Chorizo is also used in burritos and added to other dishes such as pasta and on top of pizza.

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Venetian Chorizo Spanish Sausage

So I thought it was cool that all of these meats happened to be from Canada. I read on the Next Meat website that they source their items from Canada and import items from around the world too. Venetian is based out of Hamilton, ON. Their Spanish chorizo sausage is made with a coarse grind. Again, this can be enjoyed as a snack/appetizer or within an entrée like pizza or pasta.

Overall, I thought this was a neat subscription service. Though the price point is a bit steep for me to subscribe to regularly. You are getting what you pay for though, which is an assortment of quality meat. I would have liked a better mix as I received three types of chorizo and two types of salami. Since I am new to the entire “meat market,” I thought this was a neat way to try some more products that I wouldn’t typically grab during my routine grocery shop. If you or some body you know would like to subscribe to Next Meat, check them out online!

cooking for one // spicy thai quinoa bowl

I’m a sucker for food that has a bit of a bite to it, especially when it’s super easy to make. Thai sauce is one of my favourite sauces. I love it as a dip for appetizers and as a sauce to cook with. Recently I experimented with VH’s Spicy Thai sauce to make my own quinoa bowl. Quinoa is grain high in fibre that offers a ton of protein. Quinoa is also gluten-free yet still high in antioxidants and iron. One of the best things about quinoa is how easy it is to cook and how easy it is to incorporate into any dish.

The first thing I did was cut up some onions and red peppers. I cooked these up in a frying pan with just a tiny bit of olive oil. As soon as the onion and red pepper started to cook, I added some frozen broccoli florets, chunks of fresh kale and some frozen sweet corn. This would be a good time to start boiling the water for the quinoa.

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I cooked the vegetables until they were tender through out. Since I already had cooked chicken, thanks to buying a rotisserie chicken the night before, it was easy to just throw in some chicken. I’d suggest using rotisserie chicken, but I’m sure any chicken you use will do the trick.

Now the water for the quinoa should be boiling, so cook the quinoa. In the meantime, add some spicy thai sauce to the frying pan and let it simmer on low for a bit. This lets the veggies and the chicken really soak up the flavour. Once the quinoa is cooked, mix it right into the pan with the chicken and veggies. And there you have it, an easy dinner!

product review: tomtoc laptop sleeve

I was thrilled when I noticed a pending message request on my Instagram. I love receiving messages! This one, in particular, was exciting because it wasn’t spam or a sales pitch. Angela from tomtoc had reached out in regards to partnering together in order to promote tomtoc. tomtoc is a brand that sells quality products for laptops, tablets and phones. They use premium materials to create protection for some of my favourite devices.

In this case, they sent me a laptop sleeve for my MacBook Pro. My MacBook is outdated, I got it in early 2011 before I went to college. It still works and I do use it for streaming, writing long emails and whatever else I don’t want to do from my phone. I often bring my laptop with me when I am doing contract work or if I am working somewhere other than at the office or at home. My MacBook was key to my success as an intern and as a contract employee after being hired on for the Summer. Yes… I had to use my own laptop; which kind of sucked. This also meant commuting with it and carrying it around. I settled for a cheap, plain black, not-so-durable sleeve from the dollar store.

The tomtoc sleeve that they sent me fits just perfectly. It’s snug, but it fits into the sleeve just fine. My dollar store one was too big for my laptop and certainly not as protective. The corners of the sleeve are extra padded for protection against drops. I also really liked how the outside material is water resistant. I won’t have to worry when I am walking to or from the car in the rain or in any crazy snowstorms. This sleeve really does offer some all around coverage with thick padding inside. I found it cool that they also offer a warranty for their products. On the tag of the sleeve, you get a serial number which is easily registered on the tomtoc website. The sleeve I received is basic but it does offer extra storage for USB sticks, etc. with an extra pocket at the front. Another upgrade from what I was using before.

What was also great is that I received the product one day after Angela confirmed the product with me. This is because the item shipped from Amazon and was an Amazon Prime order – how cool! If you’re on the market for some extra protection for your favourite piece of tech, check out tomtoc! I’m also working on taking some more photos which I’ll be sending off to tomtoc for use on their end of things.

gift ideas for him

Some people may have finished their Christmas shopping by now, but a lot of us likely aren’t done shopping yet. I know some people who actually like waiting until the last minute to complete all their shopping! I find it less stressful and easier to budget by spreading my shopping (and spending) through out November and into December. I was lucky to take advantage of free shipping offers and some sales from a couple retailers for Cyber Monday. I’d say that is a good start!

Year after year I find the hardest people to buy for are men. That might be ironic because I am a guy after all. Dad, brother, grandpa, etc. all seem to have everything they want! I’ve put together a few gift ideas for the men in your life.

1. Faux Suede Slippers from Mark’s – $29.99
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2. Philips PowerTouch Electric Shaver from Walmart Canada – $52.96

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-11-35-49-am3. Chocolate Brown Full Grain Leather Men’s Search Boots from TOMS – $135.00

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4. A Henley Style Shirt from H&M – $12.99

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5. 9.5 Inch Gotham Steel Frying Pan from Canadian Tire – $29.99

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6. Zurich French Press Coffee Maker from The Bay – $ 16.99

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Hopefully these items were able to get your creative juices flowing. I think most guys would be happy with any of the items above, as long as they don’t already have them. Electric razors are super convenient to have. Everyone can appreciate a nice boot that adds a little bit of style to your look. Henleys are perfect for layering and are a step up from a basic long sleeve. That frying pan is dope – I have it. It’s totally the one you’ve seen on TV that doesn’t scratch or dent and is super non-stick. French press coffee makers are sweet! Making a fresh cup of coffee with coffee grounds is so worth it.

Other gift ideas for men that you might consider are a frozen steak from the local butcher, a box of their favourite beer, instant scratch lottery tickets, new socks, new underwear and maybe a nice pair of gloves for the winter. Of course, only you know the person you’re gifting to and what to give them all depends on what they have and how they live.

tips to make winter better

Okay, ah.. winter is less than three weeks away. Although that doesn’t mean the cold weather, the blistering wind or the snow is going to hold off on us. In Canada our winter weather is very cold and our summer weather is very hot. If you’re like me, you could do without winter. Instead of being a debby downer about the season, I’ve compiled some tips that will improve your winter and help you survive the big frost. These tips should help you stay sane through out the next few months. Just remember, spring will be here soon!

1. Make DIY hand/feet warmers
These are easy enough to make with only a few supplies. The first step is to cut some material into squares. Get some thread to sew three of the sides closed, or get double sided tape to do this. Once you have three out of the four sides sealed, add a bit of uncooked rice in. Finally, seal up the fourth and final side. Bam! You’re done. Pop these little guys into the microwave and you’ve got yourself a reusable warmer. For inspiration, check out DIY’s on YouTube.

2. Avoid added sugar
Unless you’re a kid or you play more sports in the winter then you are likely participating in less physical activities. We tend to hibernate just a little bit this time of year. Spending less time outdoors can result in added weight gain. Not only does sugar aid weight gain, but it also will suppress your immune system. Be sure to get those fruits and veggies in ya!

3. Get some house plants
House plants can add so much for your living space. Not only are they decorative, but they also create oxygen and moisture. Ultimately, plants can help control the dryness that comes along with keeping your place heated during the winter.

4. Switch your bedding up
If you don’t have a duvet yet, you’ll totally appreciate having one during the colder months. There are so many different duvets out there but they all do the trick. Look for something that’s heavier than your comforter. If you already have a duvet, consider switching your bed sheets to a different material. Fleece or cotton are great alternatives.

5. Get a good lip balm
There is nothing worse than dry, cracked or even bleeding lips. The key is to keep your lips moisturized through out the day. Be sure to reapply a couple times a day and to avoid chap stick with scents or flavours.

6. Embrace the season
It’s key to stay positive this time of year. Get involved in the many things winter has to offer. This includes watching parades, building a snow fort, creating snow angels, going skating, ice fishing, etc. Kids often enjoy winter more than adults and this is probably because they take full advantage of the snow. Building snow men and having snowball fights isn’t just for kids! Dress for the weather and get into it.

songs for your playlist // 001

Music consumption has changed with the rise of technology. I had a cassette player, a CD walkman, a MP3 player and of course a few Apple products including their iPods and iPhones. Now I stream music by listening to YouTube and by using 8tracks or Spotify. That being said, a lot of the music I listen to is either on the radio while driving or by syncing my Spotify to the sound system in my vehicle through Bluetooth or an AUX cord from my iPhone. Each season I create playlists on Spotify and name them either Fall, Spring, Summer or Winter. With the rise of new music sharing and streaming platforms, I’ve come to appreciate curated playlists. For example, on Spotify I love their Fresh Finds playlist, their  Viral Hits Canada playlist, Hot Hits Canada playlist and I’m always down for playlists curated by other music listeners. One of the best ones one my library is called 2000s hip hop.

In this post I’ve noted some songs for you to listen to if you haven’t already. This list has a variety of genres and sounds in hopes that every reader will come across a song to add to their own constant rotation list – however they consume music. Note, some of these songs might be explicit, so if you work in a daycare maybe don’t bump these too loud. You can click the song to listen to the track on Spotify!

1. Reminder – The Weeknd

2. Make Me (Cry) – Noah Cyrus

3. Black Beatles – Rae Sremmund

4. That’s What I Like – Bruno Mars

5. There’s A Girl – Trent Harmon

6. We Are – Chris Lorenzo & Chris Lake

 

Let me know what you thought of this little mix and if you’d like to see more curated playlists. Let’s chat, follow @boywhoblogs on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.