Nov 10, 2014

Slow Cooker Garlic Lemon Chicken Breast

I recently bought a crockpot for $30 CDN at Walmart, and it has been a Godsend for making meals during the week. This recipe is from Allrecipes, the original recipe called for Cilantro, but I didn't have that on hand. 

There's bokeh in the soup! Yay ~


  • 1 jar (16 ounces) salsa (garlic flavouring)
  • 1 package of dry taco seasoning
  • 2 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 3 lbs of chicken breast


  1. Put in salsa, taco seasoning and lemon juice in the slow cooker, mix.
  2. Slowcook on "high" for 4 hours. 
  3. Shred the chicken with fork, serve with sauce.


Nov 9, 2014

Perfect Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Original recipe from Canadian Living - I always love their recipes. Everything I've baked from them has come out perfectly. 


  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 tsp lemon juice, let stand for 5 minutes)
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 357 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin tray with paper liners. 

  1. Mix together all-purpose flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl mix together eggs, buttermilk vegetable oil, and vanilla.
  3. Add flour mixture gradually to egg/milk mixture until well mixed.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Fill muffin paper liners 3/4 full. 
  6. Bake for 25 minutes or until cake taster comes out clean. 

Nov 2, 2014

Halifax, Nova Scotia

I was in Halifax, Nova Scotia for an academic conference. Its my first time in the Maritimes, and really the first time outside of Ontario (except for Montreal, Quebec, but thats so close to Ontario it almost doesn't count). For the most part I did travel alone, and although I had some reservations about this I actually really enjoyed it! I travelled at my own pace and did the things I wanted to do without obligation to stick to someone's schedule.

I was staying at an Airbnb by the downtown Halifax harbourfront and its beautiful here. The owner is an architect and has fantastic taste in home decor as I've slowly been taking my own little notes here and there for ideas on my own place.

My host gave me a quick tour of Halifax after picking me up from the airport, we drove through Darmouth, which he dubbed "the Dark Side" and he said its much like the "Scarborough" of Toronto. This area is not as affluent as downtown Halifax and tends to be considered a bit more sketchy by the locals. We crossed the McDonald toll bridge (lo and behold, a toll bridge).

Here are my photos from the trip:

Halifax Seaport Farmer's Market

DIY Minion Costume: The Outfit + Minion Hat for Halloween

While browsing Pinterest I came across a DIY Minion Tutorial that I really liked. So I decided, since I've been piecing together some past cosplays, why not make my own Halloween costume?


Minion Goggles [tutorial here]

  • Using supplies from Home Depot and the dollar store, I cover a tutorial on DIY Minion Goggles here.

Minion Outfit [scroll down for logo print out how-to]
  • Yellow Shirt ($6.95 from H&M)
  • Blue Shorts/skirt ($12 from H&M)
  • Knee-High Socks ($9 from Walmart)
  • Black Shoes (flats) ($9 from Walmart) 
  • Suspenders ($9.50 from Hot Topic)
  • Print logo to t-shirt ~$22

Minion Hat [for tutorial, scroll down]
  • Craft Foam for minion hat (< $10)
  • Glue gun with glue (less than $4 at the dollar store)

Getting the Printed-Tee

There were several options to get the printed logo, this "Gru Logo" which I have provided in large resolution here [click for large version, png]:

Oct 17, 2014

Happiness is in the Pursuit of Happiness

“The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand
as in what direction we are moving.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I always thought happiness was a destination, that once reached life would be immediately better. That perhaps after reaching a goal ______[weight, making a certain amount of money, finishing school, buying that new tech piece, clothing item, vacation] that would be it, I would have finally achieved happiness, life would be perfect and smooth sailing. How I ever came to that conclusion, I don't know. No one has ever explicitly explained it to me.

In the past, during those pursuits of said goals ______ [weight, getting a job, finishing school, buying that  new tech piece, clothing item, vacation] I focused SOLELY on just reaching that destination at whatever mental, physical, spiritual cost that came along. Once I achieved that goal, guess what? I felt EXACTLY the same as I did as before.  The only thing I really felt was surprised, unfulfilled, and all I could think of to myself was "is that it? thats what I worked for? And I don't feel any different.. any happier?"

What happiness is not: 
  • It isn't about the acquisition of material possessions or monetary wealth (as media and businesses would have you believe).

    One pervasive example of the effect of money on happiness - lottery winners have an elevated level of happiness that lasts about two weeks before that level goes back to what it was before they ever won the money. Although that amount of money makes life considerably easier in terms of living expenses, they are still the same people, with the issues and self-limiting beliefs.

Oct 16, 2014

DIY Halloween Minion Costume: Goggles

I've been working on a Despicable Me Minion Costume and decided to DIY this year instead of purchasing a costume (partly inspired by DIY cosplays for conventions I've started to attend this year). I was inspired by Bethany Mota's Minion Tutorial on Youtube and decided to try my hand at it.

I'll be blogging shortly about the outfit I'm putting together for the costume. 


Minion Goggles
  • PVC Piping Ends 2 or 3 inches in diameter (95 cents each at Home Depot)
  • Silver/Glitter Spray Paint ($12.95 at Home Depot). I chose one specifically for crafts
  • 6 small nuts (from my dad, can get them from Home Depot)
  • Glue Gun ($3 from the Dollar Store) with Glue Gun Fillers ($1.50 from Dollar Store)
  • Velcro straps (from Dollar Store)

Oct 14, 2014

Pumpkin Spice French Macarons

Attempt #3. Basic Macaron Recipe from BraveTart, pumpkin spice flavouring from Tasty Kitchen. Pumpkin buttercream recipe adapted from Wicked Good Kitchen and Marvelous Misadventures of a Foodie



Basic Macaron Ingredients 
  • 115 g of almond flour 
  • 230 g of icing sugar 
  • 72 g of sugar 
  • 144g of egg whites 
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 

Spice Flavouring/Colour 
  • 1 drop golden yellow or Orange Food Colouring 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice 
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Measure out almond flour, icing sugar. Put in food processor, and pulse on high until while ground (~15 times). Sift TWICE into bowl that you will set aside.
  3. Mix egg whites, sugar using an hand/standing electric mixer with a whisk attachment - and time yourself for this next part: 3 minutes on low speed, 3 minutes on medium, then 3 minutes on high. 
  4. Now, add the salt, vanilla extract, food colouring, cinnamon, and allspice, and bump the speed up to maximum for 1 minute (time yourself!). 
  5. Your meringue should be very stiff. It should NOT be runny, and should clump in the middle of the whisk. If it doesn't, beat for another minute or keep beating until it clumps in the middle of the whisk.
  6. Now add the almond flour/icing sugar mixture, and using a spatula FOLD the ingredients, which should take approximately 25 "folds" turns. 
  7. Pipe 1 inch onto baking sheet. Then bang the baking tray hard against the counter surface to dislodge air bubbles. Do this two more times. 
  8. Bake for 18 minutes, turn the baking sheet around after 9 minutes. 
  9. Remove from oven. Allow to cool completely - and be patient! Gently slide them off the parchment paper. If they are still sticking, put in freezer for 1 minute.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Buttercream 

  • 3 tbsp canned Pumpkin Puree 
  • 1/2 package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4  tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups icing sugar, sifted
    1. Beat butter and pumpkin puree together until smooth (20 seconds).
    2. Add cream cheese & vanilla
    3. Add icing sugar gradually and beat until well combined
    This was my third attempt at macarons. Needless to say there are some things I learned this time around:
    • Allow Macarons to Cool: Allow macarons to cool completely before attempting to take them off. I just let them cool for 20-30 minutes. When I became impatient, I ended up tearing some of the macarons before they were ready to be taken off. 
    • Over-mixing: I think I may be over-mixing the batter, instead of folding almond flour/icing sugar into egg white mixture 25 times (an arbitrary number) I think I'll do it until it is absorbed in the fewest strokes possible. 
    • Importance of sifting: My sifter broke on me at my last attempt, and the macarons were a bit lumpy. This time I sifted three times - and food processed any left over bits to ensure they were well grounded! The macarons held well together. 
    • Banging the tray against the counter: Sounds strange, but once I piped the macarons on the counter, I banged the tray against the kitchen counter 2-3 times to get the air bubbles out. Result? The macarons didn't crack after baking! It was a great tip I read on Bravetart
    • More reading/research: I need to read up more on technique to see where I can improve upon. 
    These baked goods are super stubborn to get right, but luckily, so am I! 


    Oct 13, 2014

    Pumpkin Pie

    Tried this recipe from Allrecipes and also adapted from Canadian Living.


    • 1 can (15 ounces, 1 3/4 cup) canned pumpkin puree
    • 1 can (14 ounces, 414 mL) Sweet Condensed Milk
    • 2 large eggs
    • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
    • 1 unbaked pie crust - I used a frozen deep pie crust, which required thawing for 15 minutes before pouring contents into pie dish.


    Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 
    1. Heat canned pumpkin puree, spices and salt over low heat for 8-10 minutes. Stir frequently. Heating the puree removes the "canny" taste.
    2. Remove mixture from heat and pour into bowl. Add condensed milk, vanilla and eggs. Whisk together until well combined. 
    3. Pour pumpkin filling mixture into crust. 
    4. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
    5. Reduce oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 35-45 minutes until cake taster comes out clean. 
    6. To prevent cracking of crust, allow the pie to cool gradually in the oven.