cooking for one // pear and brie crostini

This is the first time I’m sharing a recipe on here that I didn’t come up with on my own. In fact, I didn’t even make this… my sister made it for us at a family dinner! I wanted to share this recipe anyways because it’s so easy and was pretty darn tasty. I’ll certainly be making this next time I have to come up with an appetizer on the fly. It was so easy, quick and flavourful. Plus, you only need a few ingredients. It makes quite a bit too but you don’t have to make a lot if you don’t want to!

You’ll need a wheel of brie cheese, a french baguette, a pear or two, fresh thyme, a bit of olive oil and balsamic glaze. I would suggest getting the President’s Choice balsamic glaze!

First, preheat the oven to around 400 degrees. Then slice the baguette into thin slices about half an inch thick. Lightly coat these slices with olive oil and then put them into the oven to get crispy – about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop up the pears into thin slices just a bit smaller than the baguettes. After, cut the brie into the same size slices as your pears – so they will warm up from the baguette a bit. You’ll want to chop some fresh thyme to garnish and to add that unique flavour. Once the baguettes are crisp, remove them from the oven and get to work. Stack the pear on the baguette and the brie. Then drizzle balsamic glaze evenly over the plate and sprinkle some thyme on top.

And you’re done! This can easily be done in less than 20 minutes. Talk about an easy and different appetizer for Spring, eh?

Tips for a better public transit experience

It’s insane how many of us take public transit to work each day. It’s literally like hunger games out there. Some commuters rely on trains, buses, subways and streetcars to get to work. Luckily for me, I just have to take a train for about forty minutes to get to the city. That said, I do drive about 25 minutes to get the to the train stop. There are a few factors that can influence how poor or how well your commute will be. Some factors include scents, the people around you, if the transit is running on time and sound levels on the train/bus, etc. Another key thing to remember is your comfort.

So here are some tips on how to make the most out of your public transit experience. After all, some of us spend two or more hours a day on public transit while others only have to endure the public transit system occasionally.

Tip #1 – Arrive early
There is nothing worse than being in a rush – or missing your ride. Public transit doesn’t wait for you and rightfully so – everyone riding typically has places to be and faces to see. Be sure to give yourself enough time to load up the car and finding parking. I know that where I park spots are limited and if you don’t find parking you are really SOL.

Tip #2 – Dress accordingly
Sure you might be going to work where your dress code calls for formal wear. You might not want to show up to a meeting with running shoes on or rubber boots on in the rain. But it’s best to wear the appropriate clothing including outerwear and shoes for your commute. Nothing is worse than being uncomfortable, too warm, sore or wet. For this tip, I suggest dressing in layers or at least checking the weather for the day before you leave.

Tip #3 – Exercise your brain
Avoid boredom or having to people watch by bringing a book, puzzle, or something else to keep your brain in gear. Some people like to read the newspaper, some bring their eReaders and plenty are on their phones. Whatever you’re doing, put some effort in to get yourself thinking. Read a case study or maybe you’re the type to play Sudoku.

Tip #4 – Embrace technology to stay connected
Check your local transit system to see if they have a Twitter account where they post live updates. This could save you from getting yourself stuck in a delay due to construction or weather. If you don’t already have the official mobile app of the transit company you are working for – they maybe you should. Not only can you usually find schedules but newsworthy information and warnings are often communicated here.

Tip #5 – Rest your eyes
This is huge. Especially in the mornings, everyone is getting a little more closed eye time on their commute because they can! The one thing you want to avoid is sleeping past your stop. If you know what time you’re expected to be there then set an alarm on your phone to wake you just before you arrive.

Hopefully, some of these tips will help you feel better about taking public transit. If you have any other tips, I’d love to know them! Send me an email or connect with me on Instagram @BoyWhoBlogs!

spring 2017 sample source

So excited to receive my Spring 2017 Sample Source box! It arrived early last week and since then I’ve had a chance to sample some of the products. So far I have been loving the Pure Protein Crunch snack and thoroughly enjoyed the Hersey’s chocolate! Here is a breakdown of what I received this time from Sample Source. Can you believe this service is completely free?!

1. Nescafe Coffee Pods
This time I received both the original and a french vanilla flavour. I haven’t used them because I actually got rid of my coffee machine, but I might use them in the office or bring them to my sisters place.

2. Pedigree DentaFlex Stick
Honestly, I am scared to give this to my dog right now. My sisters dog started experiencing some weird stuff and we’re not sure what it’s from exactly. It could be a coincidence but it’s really not worth the vet bill for me – sorry Pedigree and sorry Ellie!

3. Truvia Sweetener
I’m excited to give these sweeteners a try. I am trying hard to kick my love/addiction to sugar and figure these might just be helpful for that. These can be used in coffee, tea and as a substitute for any other sweetener you’re using.

4. Breathe Right Nasal Strips
I actually really like these strips. I think I have received them in nearly every Sample Source box I have every received. They work well… but please remember to use water during the removal process. I learned the hard way and have a nice bruise on my nose for a solid week. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS.

5. Sensodyne Toothpaste
This isn’t really a new product for me, I’ve used Sensodyne before. I like to keep these little sample sizes for travel or to keep at the office. Since using Invisalign, I have definitely tripled the amount of toothpaste I use.

6. Welch’s Fruit Snacks
Again, one of my favourite items. I’ve totally received these fruit snacks before. They are a perfect mid-day snack for a little boost of sugar.

7. Dove Shampoo and Conditioner
These sample sizes are perfect for travel or for when you run out of shampoo or conditioner – saving the day. These are the daily moisture collection which should hydrate any damaged hair. I personally love Dove products.

8. Catelli Ancient Grain Pasta
I have yet to try this pasta. I picked up the package last night from Foodland. Sample Source includes a coupon for a free package, but you have to pick up the product yourself. I assume this is because of the size and weight of the product. This pasta is made from a variety of grains including quinoa.

9. Purina Dog Chow
Since I am pretty well set on the dog food I already buy, I tend to mix in the sample bags I get with her regular good. To avoid any upset stomachs, I don’t really give my dog a full bowl of a new dog food unless I am desperate. Like I stayed at a friends house with her and didn’t bring enough food and they pet store near by didn’t have the regular stuff.

10. Pure Protein Crunch
These little snacks are tasty. I received the peanut butter flavour – and I am obsessed with peanut butter. Each package contains 10g of protein, 5g of sugar and 160 calories. The best way to describe them are like a corn puff texture with a little hint of peanut butter. They don’t taste like protein powder or anything weird. I liked them!

11. Hersey’s Cookie + Caramel Bar
This was the perfect treat for after dinner. The bite size bar was packed with little chunks of shortbread and a nice amount of carmel. The chocolate was creamy like Hersey’s always is! I could totally eat more of these.

12. Special K Nourish Bar – Caramel Sea Salt & Mixed Nuts
I love the nourish bars from Kellogg’s. This one even has quinoa in it! It’s definitely not missing out on any sugar though. Despite sounding like a healthy treat, it’s really not all that great for you. I mean, there is some nutritional value but this isn’t a substitute for a good breakfast by any means.

So I think this was a good little collection of goodies. Inside Sample Source is always more coupons as well. I have never been let down by Sample Source. I mean you’re getting a bunch of samples for free – how could you be? You don’t have to be a blogger or anything to get these samples either. Just sign up on their website and wait for the email to let you know when to log on and order your box! The best part is that they distribute samples in Canada and in the US.

Check out Sample Source today so that you don’t miss next quarter’s box.

songs for your playlist // 004

I don’t know why I don’t share playlist more frequently, I love sharing music with you guys and it’s not hard to put together. There are a ton of new releases each week. And hey, there has been some amazing new music released lately. I think this playlist is includes some easy to listen to music that will get you going.  Keep in mind I am also 23… like my mom would likely tell me to “turn this shit off.” But hey, I’m sure these tracks are pretty perfect to kick off the weekend!

1. Nothing Holding Me Back – Shawn Mendes

2. Drunk & I’m Drunk – Marc E. Bassy ft. Bobby Brackins

3. Selfish – Future ft. Rihanna

4. Lust For Life – Lana Del Rey ft. The Weeknd

5. Nights With You – MØ

6. Unforgettable – French Montana ft. Swae Lee

Hopefully you liked at least one of these songs and reading this wasn’t a complete waste. And if not, that sucks. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter!

experience an eye exam

Recently I’ve been catching myself stuck making an unattractive face as I squint to read things at the grocery store, while driving or trying to read anything that is slightly further away. I’m not sure if staring at a computer screen at work or constantly looking at an iPhone screen is to blame – just it sure isn’t helping. Both my mother, father and sister have glasses so it’s not like I didn’t expect the day to come.

I called two places to try and book in an eye exam. I don’t typically like booking appointments far in advance, I’d rather just walk in to be honest. Luckily, one of the places I called said they could fit me in for an appointment that same day. So I was there within five minutes. First step was filling out paper work and then I was asked to come back to do a little pre screening. This included three machines. The first was looking at a small red house far in the distant. The second was a pressure test, they sprayed a little air into each of my eyes, one at a time. The third one was to evaluate my peripheral vision. I had to click a little handheld control each time I saw a squiggly line appear in my peripherals.

After that I waited a bit and then was directed to another room for the eye test. The doctor had me read off a few things across the room and was trying different lenses to determine if they made my vision better or worse. Each change I was asked to read what I could. The doctor then put some eye drops in my eye. These drops dilated my pupils so that he could see into my eyes better. It took about ten to fifteen minutes for my pupils to fully dilate.

In the mean time he had me leave the room and go look at frames until my eyes were dilated. I looked at frames and tried a few different ones on. Took some photos of them on so I could get opinions in case I did need glasses. Soon enough he asked me to come back to finish the exam. He had a light out and had me follow the light  with my eyes. I was looking from left to right and up and down. He put a head lamp on, looked around some more and then he printed my prescription. I need to get glasses – which is totally okay. Of course I think I look like a knob with glasses on but I’m sure they will grow on me.

On a side note, the eyedrops they use to dilate your pupils make your eyes EXTREMELY sensitive to light. I stepped outside and felt like I was on the sun. It hurt. Likely should not have drove home either. Of course he told me my eyes will be sensitive to light for a few hours after.. but I had to walk my dog and I lost my sunglasses. That hurt and resulted in a migraine. So if you take anything way from this post it should be: have a ride home after an eye exam and bring sunglasses.

update on my Invisalign treatment

If you have followed my blog since the start then you likely have seen a couple of the posts I wrote about Invisalign. If not, you might not have a clue what Invisalign is. Invisalign creates clear aligners that slowly move your teeth into better alignment in order to create picture perfect smiles. They are modern day braces. They aren’t cheap but they do come with their own unique benefits. Compared to traditional braces, Invisalign is a lot less noticeable. Since they are removable, brushing and cleaning my teeth is much easier than if I had traditional braces on. I remove my trays to eat and drink anything other than water. No one has asked me about them either, they are very discrete and hard to see unless you’re looking – or are up close.

I guess there are some down sides of Invisalign. I have had a couple minor issues. My 6th and 7th top row aligners have cracked. Luckily for me, they cracked close to the dates that I would normally switch to my new trays. Every two weeks I switch to new trays. I think the aligners make have become weak from me removing them over time. Each time I remove the aligners I was pulling from the same spot.

Unfortunately, this weekend I left my aligners in the DD’s car, I knew I would be going home in the vehicle and I couldn’t leave them in because I was drinking and eating. So I lost the top aligner of my 8th tray. They were left in the car door of the back seat. A friend of mine accidentally knocked them I guess and I couldn’t find it. I am pretty sure they fell on the ground outside in the dark. Thankfully I was to switch to my 9th set of aligners this week anyways, so I just did the switch early.

I was told to wear each set of aligners for 22 hours a day for a full two weeks. When I first cracked one of the aligners, I called the dentist office. They said I was close enough to switching to my next set anyways and gave me the go ahead to switch. Same thing happened with the next set, exact same spot to. It was around the same time, so I made the switch. Switching your trays early is not advisable and this of course would depend on your specific scenario and progression. I didn’t experience much pain or discomfort from switching early, but I think it’s because I have been close to the regular switch date anyways.

Other than that, I am very happy with the progress I’ve seen. My teeth have definitely straightened out and are coming together nicely. I do however feel awkward without my aligners in. Of course I try to minimize the amount of time that I go without them in. Although I do have (at least) 21 more sets of aligners; aka 42 more weeks of Invisalign left. I can’t wait to see the finished look of my teeth!

experience chiropractic work

For as long as I can remember I’ve suffered from discomfort in my neck and lower back. I can crack pretty much all my joints: toes, ankles, wrists, hips, back, neck, knees.. you name it. Now this isn’t something I am proud of, it’s kind of disturbing actually. It’s kind of funny because for the longest time I thought that it was normal. Doesn’t everyone experience the same aches and pains that I do? I’m sure my friends and family thought, or still think, that I am over exaggerating when I complain. I’m not a fan of popping pills if I don’t need to. I’d rather not take a muscle relaxer or pain reliever but sometimes I just have to. If my pain is throbbing and unbearable, I will try a topical treatment first. I like Saje’s pain release roll-on but it doesn’t always work for me. It’s all temporary relief anyways. I’ll stretch and I’ll lift weights to work the area. It helps get the blood flowing to ease the discomfort.

I’ve tried massage therapy and that hurt like no other. My massage therapist really focused on my lower back/butt area. I would leave sore and was tender for several days after. I went for a few months but really didn’t see any improvement. I’ve considered going to see a chiropractic work for a while now. This week, I finally booked in to see a local chiropractor for my initial exam. We discussed my case including a treatment plan. This included in take forms and a discussion about my problem areas. The chiropractor determined that the big factor in why my neck and lower back are giving me trouble is because of a lack of movement in the very bottom and in the very top of my spine. Most of this is because of two things: my addiction to my iPhone (looking down at my phone all day, every day) and my habit to sleep on my stomach.

Now, I’ve had a cell phone since I was in grade five. I am now 23. Also, for as long as I remember I have slept on my stomach. It’s so comfortable and I feel less vulnerable on my stomach. See, sleeping on your stomach is the worst position. It effects your lower back and your neck. You have pressure on your tail bone area and your forced to turn your head to lay on your pillow – which strains your neck over time. So I need to stop sleeping on my stomach and raise my phone in front of my face..

During the exam the chiropractor had me do some movements such as bending over to my toes, bending backwards and had me bend from side to side. Then she did my first alignment. My neck and lower back were the focus points. Honestly, it was pretty trippy and I did hear some loud snap, crackle and pops. But it didn’t hurt and I am used to doing this to myself; improperly.

Honestly, I was a bit nervous going in. I’ve heard the horror stories of people dying and what not. I “self-align” A LOT, which means I am constantly trying to pop areas of discomfort for that immediate relief. What the chiropractor told me though was that this isn’t doing me any good, this is cracking the same joints over and over but isn’t actually helping the problem areas. I’ve booked two more appointments and hope that I see some relief soon!

three reasons to create an Instagram account for your dog

About 17 months ago, I got my own puppy. It’s been a crazy little journey so far – training, socializing, caring for and creating memories together. If you know me, you know she is spoiled and that I am pretty obsessed with her. I’ve got to keep her in mind with all my decision making. Since I am alone with her, I need to ensure she is fed, exercised and has been given plenty of attention. One decision I made when getting a puppy was if I should create an Instagram account for her. Some people think it’s a little odd, but if you’ve ever looked for dogs on Instagram then you know there are tons of dogs with their own accounts. Dog owners create accounts for various reasons and I’m going to share some reasons on why I think you should create an Instagram account for your pet.

1. Less posts on your personal feed 
If you’re like me – you probably get sick of seeing people post the same things over and over again. At my age, people are starting to get married, have kids, get their own places and to get dogs. Some of your followers are likely just people you talked to in high school; old friends or friends of friends. It’s just how things pan out when you grew up with the launch of new social media platforms every couple years. What I can’t handle is the constant photos of the same things over and over again. Of course, I am obsessed with my dog and could post a photo of her everyday on my Instagram if I wanted to. But I know majority of my followers don’t want to see that. For that reason, I thought it would be a good idea to create a separate account for those who enjoy and want to see her pictures more often.

2. A timeline of life
I love going back through the feed I’ve created. I can see photos of her when I first got her when she was just a little tiny puppy compared to now. She has grown so much in 17 months. This way I can also remember things we’ve done and the life she lived once she passes away – it’s horrible to think of, but I am not naive. Having a collection of photos in one place makes it so much easier to reminisce.

3. You could make some money
If you’re serious about earning some money on the side, you can work to grow and then to monetize that account. As you may know, brands will pay for “influencers” to promote their products or services. In fact, the company I worked for while working as a brand manager partnered with Boo, the world’s cutest dog and with Grumpy Cat. Both of these pets have started a business of their own – making money from brand deals, appearances, merchandise, etc. It takes a lot of effort, time and strategy to get there. I personally am not looking to make my dog Insta-famous, but hey, I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea.

So, you might think I am crazy for creating an Instagram account for my dog.. but hey, you can’t complain that I spam my personal account with her. Of course she’s going to make an appearance on my account – after all, she is my #1. If you’re interested in following Ellie on Instagram you can here: @elliethefroston

cooking for one // two quick beef dinner ideas

I love myself some red meat. Funny because I was also a vegetarian for a year and a bit in my early teens. That is probably why I still look 14, I think I lacked the protein and nutrition I needed to grow into a big burly man. Anyways, grill me a t-bone steak and let’s get it. So yes, I do like my beef. Yes, I love my BBQ and do use it year round. But these beef dinner ideas are sure to make your dinner an easy one. Both are good on their own – or can be used to create something else.

Honey Garlic Beef Strips
Okay, I don’t even know where I came up with the idea to make this. But damn, let me tell you.. these are so good. Not only is this cheap and quick to make, but you’re going to think you are eating honey garlic beef ribs from the chinese restaurant you adore. Tender and full of flavour, yum!

So easy. Buy the package of beef strips commonly used for stir fry or fajitas. Or, you can buy a think steak and cut it into 1/4 inch strips. In a frying pan, add a tiny bit of olive oil (tablespoon or so) and brown the beef strips up. Once the meat is browned, add a bit of honey garlic sauce. I like the VH brand best, but have used others too. Reduce heat and let it simmer until the beef soaks up all the honey garlic flavour. It shouldn’t be runny. BAM! You’re done.  You can mix this up with some rice and veggies – or just have it on a side. I often just make the beef and pair it with corn, broccoli, sweet potato or whatever else I am feeling or have on hand.

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Homemade Meatballs
I am a sucker for homemade meatballs.. well I am a sucker for meatballs in general. Let’s be serious, the only ones who don’t like meatballs at a potluck are the vegans and vegetarians. Nothing against that – I bet they love veggie meatballs too. I know I did when I was a vegetarian. You can do so much and get creative while making your meatballs.

Since I don’t love eggs, I never buy them. So instead I use panko bread crumbs to help them stick together and maintain that sphere shape. Other things I love to add in: minced garlic, minced onion, soy sauce, pepper, cayenne, and some parmesan cheese. As usual, I don’t weigh out how much goes in, I use my judgement. Again – super easy to cook. Fry the meat balls up in a frying pan. Don’t make the balls too big, this makes it harder to cook through and no one wants raw meat.

Hopefully these beef options will be coming to your dinner plate soon. After all, they are cheap to make and can be made up in less than 20 minutes. Both are pretty easy to clean up too.  Enjoy!

living with a food allergy

According to allergicliving.com, less than 10% of Canadians have food allergies. This statistic shocks me, this means only 1 in 13 Canadians have to worry about their food possibly causing a reaction. The numbers seems low to me; which is a good thing because many people are living without a food allergy. Unfortunately for me, I have a food allergy to sunflower seeds and I think a couple other seeds as well. It’s unfortunate because seeds are great for you. Not only are they are packed with health benefits but they are used in such a variety of food.

I think it is super weird how I can eat things cooked with, or in sunflower oil but I can’t eat the actual sunflower seed or any sunflower lecithin. Sunflower lecithin is an extract from the seed itself commonly used in cooking. What really sucks about having a food allergy is when you experience an unexpected reaction because the food you bought wasn’t labelled correctly, or the people preparing the food were unsure of what ingredients were actually used in the food they are selling. Yes, you can ask if the food or drink (yes, I’ve had a reaction to a $10 smoothie before because it unknowingly contained sunflower seeds) contains any seeds but honestly, you’re likely going to get an “I don’t know” or “We can’t be sure” answer. Again, you need to be looking out for yourself but how annoying is it asking if the food contains anything you’re allergic to? Very. For that reason I decided to compile some tips on how you can prepare and avoid a disturbing reaction below.

1. Call before you visit
I know from being a server in the past that it can be stressful on the kitchen when you report an allergy upon putting in an order. Kitchens are fast paced places, the staff is working hard to cook meals in a timely manner. So instead of showing up during the lunch or dinner rush with a serious and sometimes life threatening concern, call ahead. Ask to speak with the kitchen manager or head chef to see what items on the menu are best for you. Fast food places including take out establishments and coffee shops are no different – be sure to ask the right questions about how you can dine safe.

2. Be prepared
If you have a serious allergy that can leave you in anaphylactic shock, it’s important to keep an Epipen with you when you’re eating food that someone else prepared. If you have less severe allergies, it’s a good idea to keep an allergy medicine such as Benadryl on hand. Keep it in your pocket, leave it in the car – just have it near by. You can also look into using essential oils such as lavender and eucalyptus to help subside your reaction.

3. Ask questions and seek confirmation
As serious as a food allergy can be, you can’t expect others to be as cautious of your allergy as you are. Don’t hesitate to ask before you order if the meal contains the allergen. Once the meal is served, don’t be afraid to seek confirmation again. Politely ask “No sunflower seeds in this one, right?”  If you’re a large group and someone ordered the same dish as you, they likely had sunflower seeds in their dish and the server may have grabbed the wrong plate. You can never be to safe!

4. Take action
If you are experiencing a reaction, you need to take immediate action. Reactions can be different – even if it’s the same allergy. The same person can have different symptoms each time they encounter their allergen. Don’t ignore early symptoms, this can make things worse. Remember, anaphylaxis can occur without skin symptoms or hives.

5. Communicate your concern
For the longest time some family told me I wasn’t allergic to anything. I knew they clearly didn’t get it. You don’t just start feeling like absolute shit from eating the same thing every time. It’s also not normal to get hives, to feel like you can’t breath right, or for your eyes to water, your skin shouldn’t itch after eating something and you shouldn’t be puking after either. A reaction is different each time – sometimes I get a bad reaction and sometimes it’s nothing but an upset stomach and itchy throat. If you’re experiencing a reaction, tell someone. Tell them not to panic, but it’s a good idea to let someone else know. Don’t feel embarrassed or awkward. It is crucial to have those around you know in case the reaction worsens.