Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Touch of Class {Black & Gold}

There's something about the combination of black and gold that makes a statement. It just has a rich quality that gives a classy quality to a space.

Here are some beautiful furnishings and accessories that use a black and gold colour scheme that are to die for:



This glossy black console table with gold detailing is a timeless piece that can add class to your home.


With a contemporary appeal, this lamp can give a room a classic and rich appearance without having to be a traditional style.


Breath-taking and beautiful. This settee uses rich silken upholstery and gold painted wood detailing for a sophisticated and classic look.


This gold accents and accessories in this bathroom add a refreshing pop of colour to this monochromatic scheme, while simultaneously creating a rich atmosphere in the room.

This colour combination is timeless, and can be applied to various decor styles to add a touch of class to your home. 


Take Care,

Leanne.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Better for You Banana Bread


My boyfriend recently received a fruit basket from work which contained many delicious items, including bananas. We both don't really eat bananas on their own but really love banana bread, so rather than putting them into smoothies, we have decided to let them ripen and make banana bread.

I am personally trying to eat healthier so I searched for a delicious banana bread recipe that is better for you than the usual fat and sugar packed version that I usually make, and this is what I found from a great healthy eating blog called 8 Weeks to a Better You Recipes:





Ingredients:
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar free applesauce
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 mashed overripe bananas

Directions:1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.


2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together applesauce and honey. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack


I can't wait to try this as soon as the bananas in my kitchen finish ripening this week. I hope you enjoy it as much as I think I will.


Take Care,

Leanne.

Friday, April 26, 2013

30 Day Challenge {Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred}

Here's a challenge that I encourage anyone, and everyone, to try: Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred. This workout DVD consists of 3 levels in increasing intensity, each approximately 30 minutes long and claims that you can lose up to 20 lbs in 30 days!

I have personally done this workout challenge for the full 30 days on multiple occasions and had lost between 10-20lbs (my results were best when I was actively concentrating on my eating habits, and eating healthy). Each of these routines will make you drip sweat.

http://www.amazon.ca/Jillian-Michaels-30-Day-Shred/dp/B00142UZ2G

As with any fitness routine, you will get optimal results when on a healthy diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein; limit your consumption of packaged and processed foods to a minimum, or even better, cut them out all together. Fitness is not just about exercise  it's about balance between exercise and a healthy diet. Roughly 50% of your results come from your diet; you could workout every day of the week but still not see any results if you're eating junk most of the time.

Trust me, this challenge works; for a minimal cost and 30 minutes/day, why not give it a shot?


Take Care,

Leanne.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Honey Bee Colour Palette {Black & Yellow}

More and more we are seeing colour palettes that are inspired by nature. Whether it's pinks and purples from a flower, or neutrals from a sandy beach with stones and driftwood, these colour palettes are guaranteed to be harmonious and beautiful. 

Here are some breath-taking interiors with a honey bee inspired colour palette; bold black and bright yellow.


This bathroom uses black and yellow in a bold chevron pattern painted on the walls to add drama and a contemporary twist to this otherwise traditional bathroom design.



This contemporary living room uses a mid toned yellow couch to add a punch of colour and cheer to this monochromatic room. 



This modern dining room uses yellow accents to liven up the space. With the metropolitan aerial map wallpaper, the yellow accents are reminiscent of the yellow paint on a taxi.



This bathroom uses a bright yellow wall colour, paired with black and white accents to create an energizing space with a sophisticated atmosphere. 

Which of these 4 designs is your favourite? I know that I can't pick just one.

Take Care,

Leanne.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Better For You Crab Ragoon

There are a few different names for Crab Ragoon, depending where you go to get it. For instance, when I go to all you can eat sushi they're called "cheese wontons" on the menu, and when I go to one of my favourite Chinese restaurants they're called "crispy wontons". But regardless of what they are called, these appetizers are amazing!

Basically, Crab Ragoon is a mixture of cream cheese and flaked crab meat, which is then packed into a wonton shell and deep fried. The result is a crispy shell filled with a warm & gooey cream cheese filling that has a hint of crab flavour, and is usually served with a room temperature sweet and sour sauce for dipping.

Here's an amazing recipe I found to make them, and the added bonus is that it's made to be healthier for you than the original version by using low fat cream cheese and by baking them in muffin tins rather than deep frying them in vegetable oil (only 41 calories each).



Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8

Ingredients
  • 24 wonton wrappers (I used Nasoya brand)
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 8oz lump crab meat
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ cup reduced fat cream cheese
  • ⅓ cup scallions, washed and thinly sliced

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375
Spray mini muffin tin with olive oil spray
Push a wonton wrapper into each muffin tin
In a mixing bowl, combine crab, worchestershire sauce, curry powder, ginger and cayenne pepper
Mix with a fork, breaking large chunks of crab
Add cream cheese, mashing with a fork until fully incorporated
Using a teaspoon, spoon the filling mixture into wontons
Fold ends of wonton wrapper over mixture, wet finger to seal
Bake for 10 minutes until ends are slightly browned
Serve hot, garnished with scallions

For the complete recipe and many other healthy recipes, check out Gen Foodie


I know I'll be making these really soon when my next Crab Ragoon craving strikes. If you try these please feel free to let me know how they turned out or any modifications that you may have made that made this recipe even better. Enjoy!

Take Care,

Leanne.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Skinny Jean Ready Legs {Skinny Jeans Workout}

On Friday of last week, I decided to look through my fitness routines that I have accumulated over the years to find a routine for legs that I hadn't tried yet. I came across this routine from Women's Health Magazine, called "The Skinny Jeans Workout" that, to my surprise, I still had not tried yet. So after a 20 minute interval run on the treadmill I gave it a try (with some modifications to add an extra challenge), and my legs are still sore!




In case you are curious as to what modifications I had made to this routine, I will list them;

1.) Instead of 10-12 reps for each exercise, I did 12-15 reps

2.) For the stability lunge I planted my front foot on top of a bosu ball, and instead of placing my hands over head, I placed my hands at my sides with a 12 lb weight in each hand.

3.) For the single-leg arm reach, I changed it by placing 12 lb weights in each hand for added resistance

4.) For the cable pull through, instead of a cable machine (because it was in use at the time and I wanted to minimize my rest time between sets) I used a 15 lb kettlebell, swinging it from between my legs up to shoulder height, holding for 1 second, then lowering & repeat.

I definitely suggest trying this routine. I know I will be doing it again! And trust me, it's harder than it looks.


Take Care,

Leanne.

Monday, April 22, 2013

First Impressions {Foyers}

First impressions can either "make it, or break it"; that holds true to many things, whether it's your first impression of someone when you meet them for the first time, or in your home.

With that being said, your foyer, or entry way, acts as the first impression to your home. It's the first thing people see (other than the exterior) that sets the stage and expectations for what the rest of your home will look like. 

Here are some amazing foyers that I hope you will love as much as I do:



A playful and colourful foyer can show off your personality with the use of your favourite colour. This foyer gives off a relaxed and fun vibe, with a colour scheme that cheers you up right away.



With it's high ceilings, luxurious finishes and the exquisite details in the chandelier and banister on the staircase, this foyer is jaw-dropping and beautiful. You can only imagine what the rest of the home would look like!



Warm and welcoming, this rustic designed foyer features natural elements like tumbled stone, and  exposed wood beams that could make you really feel at home. Nice and cozy (this is one of my personal favourites).



Clean and clutter free. This foyer uses minimal furniture and beautiful accessories, such as the gold urns on the pillars flanking the double doors, and the beautiful table with a large vase with greenery. Exquisite.


Take Care,

Leanne.



Friday, April 19, 2013

Happy Birthday!

Today is one of my best friend's birthdays, she turns 22 today. And in my own way of celebrating her birthday, as well as my many other April born friend's birthdays this month, I decided to focus today's post on Birthday Cake flavoured food & drink items.

Happy Birthday to my good friend, and anyone else celebrating their birthday!




I know I'd love to wake up to this first thing in the morning on my birthday. Delicious, and what a wake up call with that sugar rush!


Yummy birthday cake flavoured fudge. Rich and creamy, with playful rainbow sprinkles. What a great treat.


if you have not experienced birthday cake flavoured ice cream (or frozen yogurt), you must! So great and combines the classic of having cake with ice cream, but in one complete dish.


For the adult crowd; why not kick off your celebrations with this cute birthday cake martini? Sounds good to me. And for a non-alcoholic version try making a milkshake instead (possibly use the birthday cake flavoured ice cream to do so).


I think you'll agree that birthdays can be so much fun, whether it's your special day, or you're taking part in the festivities. Enjoy yourself & have fun!

Take Care,

Leanne.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

HIIT Training {No Excuses Workout}

While surfing Pinterest this afternoon I came across this awesome, not to mention intense, HIIT workout.

For those of you who may not know what HIIT stands for, it's "High Intensity Interval Training", which is very popular in gyms and with fitness professionals across the world today.

I can personally say that although reading this workout may seem like there's nothing to it and it will be a breeze to go through, I can assure you it's tougher than it looks. 

This workout takes such little time out of your day and will give you results if you do this 3-5 days a week.

  

Give it a try and see what you think. It only takes 4 minutes: on average that's the time we take to brush our teeth in the day (2 mins in the morning and 2 mins at night).  What's your excuse?

Take Care,

Leanne.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Make it Pop {Red, White & Black Colour Combinations}

Black & white is most definitely a classic, there is no question about it; screaming elegance and class. But, what happens when we add a bright tertiary colour into the mix?

You make the room pop!

Black, white & red are by far one of my favourite colour schemes, not just in a room but in clothing and accessories as well. I don't know about you, but to me these colours add impact to a space that can be desirable in various styles, like in the following images:



This contemporary studio apartment has a clean look with it's organic lines and dominant use of white in the colour scheme of the room, while adding impact with the sparing use of both black and red in the furniture and accessories.


Transitional spaces don't have to be boring. As you see in this living room, a neutral space can be brought to life with the use of vibrant pops if colour like you see here in the toss cushion and floral arrangement, as well as the black accessories and coffee table.


This traditional foyer wakes up the senses with it's bold use of red on the walls paired with the black and white marble floors. A perfect mixture of class, elegance, and spunk.


One could really feel at home in this modern living area. With the careful use of black and white that is not too bright or too heavy, and a perfect amount of red keeping this room cozy and fresh in its modern design.  And let's be honest, that area rug looks so plush and cozy, how couldn't you love this room, if not for that one accent piece?


I hope you enjoyed these rooms and this colour combination as much as I did.

Take Care,

Leanne.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hot Sauce, The New Ketchup {Sriracha Sauce}

 Growing up as a kid, I used to put ketchup on everything! French fries, hamburgers, hot dogs, even steak (although I'd never do such a thing now). It was my condiment of choice, and I think it's safe to say that it's one of the most popular condiments in North America.

Now that I have grown up, and my tastes have expanded, I love a variety of flavours, but most of all I love spicy food! With that being said, my new condiment of choice is Sriracha Sauce; I put it on and in almost all of my food now. I guess you can say it is one of my new food addictions.



For those of you who may not be familiar with Sriracha sauce (also referred to as "Rooster Sauce" by some people), it is a chili based hot sauce that it thick and spicy, and can be used as a condiment to put on top of various foods, or can be used as a flavour booster in your cooking.

My favourite things to use Sriracha for is in soups such as Mr.Noodles, on top of Kraft Dinner, and in sauces for pasta or dips. My boyfriend uses it even more than I do and puts it on sandwiches and even makes a butter topping for popcorn by melting butter and generously mixing Sriracha sauce until it's well blended.

Here are some tasty recipes that use this amazing sauce that I will be making in the next few weeks from http://www.inspiredtaste.net/:


Sweet and Spicy Butternut Squash
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 55 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Sweet and Spicy Butternut Squash is the perfect way to use up that squash you have in the fridge.
Created By: 
Serves: 2-4

Ingredients:
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (suggested: Sriracha)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • basil leaves

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Toss squash with olive oil, maple syrup, chili sauce and salt.
  3. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, give the squash a stir then bake for another 20-25 minutes until the squash is tender and caramelized.
  4. Top squash with feta cheese and basil leaves.






Brown Sugar Barbecue Baked Chicken Wings
Prep time:15 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Sweet, smokey and just a little spicy, the sauce for these wings comes together in 5 minutes and is crazy good!

Created By: 
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 pounds chicken wings, wing and drumstick separated (see note)

Method:
  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. (If you have one that fits, lay a cooling rack inside the baking sheet, this helps get the chicken extra crispy – see note below).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, sriracha, cumin and soy sauce. Taste and adjust the sauce to your liking then set aside 1/2 cup of sauce for tossing raw chicken and save the rest for dipping once the chicken has cooked.
  3. Toss chicken with reserved 1/2 cup of sauce then add to the prepared baking sheet (you may need two). Then, bake chicken, turning chicken once during cooking, until opaque throughout, about 30 minutes.

  4. Serve chicken with the sauce you set aside earlier, either on the side or tossed with the chicken.

Notes
To cut chicken wings so that the drumstick and wing are separated, see our recipe video. If you have a cooling rack that can fit inside your baking sheet, use it. The cooling rack will lift the chicken up, allowing hot air to travel around the chicken. If you do not own a cooling rack that will fit inside your baking sheets, just place the chicken directly onto the foil lined baking sheet and make sure you flip the chicken at the half way point during cooking.





Take Care, 

Leanne

Monday, April 15, 2013

Putting Thoughts In Motion {Gym Motivation}

Happy Monday Everyone!
If you are like me, you like to set new goals for yourself and find that it's easier to start a new habit at the beginning of the work week. However, when it comes to fitness, Sunday night you may set your alarm to get up early to head to the gym, but when Monday morning comes and your alarm goes off early you may feel more inclined to press snooze and sleep for that hour that you had previously intended to be spending doing squats or running until your legs turn to jelly on the treadmill. Now don't get down on yourself if this sounds like you, I did it too when I started getting back into shape recently after finishing my final semester at college.  

Want to know what I did instead of writing off the gym all together that day? I went after work instead, which turned out to be more productive for me because I was able to fully function at work because I was well rested, and was able to unwind after a long stressful day at work by taking a relaxing jog on the treadmill and lifting weights (yes I truly do find these things relaxing).

What I'm trying to say here is you can get all of this advice on starting a new routine or habit, but ultimately you need to find what works best for you and make it work. At first it may seem like a challenge, but eventually it will be second nature, a part of your daily routine.

So with that all being said, I felt like I would give some tips of what I've found personally help to keep me motivated to be physically fit, and to get my butt into the gym after a weekend off. Here it goes:


1. Schedule It

My dry erase calender looks quite similar to this, except this is a runner's calender  where mine is a little less descriptive and just states which days I do strength and which days I do cardio. I find this technique very helpful and keeps me motivated to go to the gym because once it's in writing, it's a priority; treat it like an appointment that you cannot miss.


2.  Prepare Ahead

Pack your gym bag the night before and put it by the front door; that way, when you're heading out, you have no excuse to forget it and miss your gym session. I personally take this to another level by having a back up gym bag in the trunk of my car, as well as leaving one at my front door. No excuses!

3. Use Your Phone

This world that we live in now uses technology for everything, so why not use it to your advantage? Give yourself an extra push by setting a reminder alert on your phone for 5 minutes before you leave work (or whatever time works best for you) so that when you go to look at your phone, BAM there's a reminder right in your face telling you to get your butt to the gym.

4. Plan A Route With Purpose

This is one of my favourite tricks that I play on myself on days when I don't want to go to the gym and would rather be lazy and watch movies on the couch; I plan my route home from work so that I have to drive by my gym. That way it's staring me in the face and I have no reason to drive past because it's on my way home. And let's face it, you can curl up on the couch and watch movies after a quick workout anyway.


These 4 tips are my top motivators to keep me going to the gym throughout the week. And if you miss a day, don't beat yourself up, you can make up for it tomorrow! One day lost shouldn't keep you from reaching your goals. 


Take Care,

Leanne.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Getting Exposed {Exposed Ceilings}

While I was doing ab work at the gym today, looking up I noticed the details in the ceiling. Now when I say details, I don't mean fine details and decor accents, I mean standard architectural details such as piping, electrical wires, and duct work. This made me think about different types of exposed ceilings and how they can add different qualities to a space that can be quite interesting. Here are some images that showcase exposed ceilings in different settings and decor styles:


http://www.designpov.com/Bungalow.html

The beams in this vaulted ceiling draw the eye upwards while filling in what could be an awkward gap of space, and brings attention to the existing architecture of the home.



The architectural beams and exposed duct work in this contemporary loft add an industrial feel to the space, while the decor keeps the space looking fresh and warm.


http://plastolux.com/modern-industrial-office-gensler.html

The ceiling in this office building maintains an industrial feel by having the duct work and electrical visible, but also adds visual interest and a secondary focal point to the room with the wooden beam grid & light bulbs hanging from the ceiling.



The exposed framework and beams in the ceiling add a charm to this traditional space, while creating a very warm and welcoming atmosphere with the warm tones of the natural wood and overall colour scheme of this living room.


So often we forget to look up and admire the details and beauty of architecture and fine details in ceilings, but if we take time to stop and observe, it's amazing what we can discover.

Take Care,

Leanne.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Flavours of the East {Easy Chicken Curry}


As I stated in a previous post, I love international cuisine. One of my favourites is Indian food, full of aromatic spices and so many options for both meat lovers and vegetarians.

I had the urge to make my own yellow chicken curry, so a few nights ago I searched the internet for a simple and flavourful recipe and stumbled upon this delicious creation:




Ingredients:

Servings:
4-6
Units: US | Metric
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons yellow curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger (fresh or dried)
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, tenderized and cubed
1/2 lemon, juiced
sriracha sauce, to taste


Directions:

1.Before cooking: tenderize and cube chicken, chop onion and mince garlic (I combine the two ingredients in a food processor), and combine curry powder, cinnamon, paprika, ginger root, and sugar in a small cereal-sized bowl.
2.Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium heat.
3.Once oil is hot, add onion and garlic.
4.Saute onion and garlic until onion is browned.
5.Add curry spices to the pan (add olive oil if need be--use your better judgement).
6.Saute combination until the spices have soaked up all of the remaining olive oil.
7.Add coconut milk, tomato paste, and chicken.
8.Simmer for 20-25 minutes.
9.Remove bay leaf.
10.Add lemon juice.
11.Simmer for 5 more minutes.
12.Serve over white rice (or fancier rice, if you prefer).

13. Allow guests to add sriracha sauce to their tastes.









Photographed by Author.

My only suggestion is to reduce the oil by 1 tbsp so that it isn't so greasy (I spooned excess oil off the top of the pan once it was done cooking). Otherwise this is a great dish that will spice up your usual dinner choices, and I hope you enjoy this as much as my family and I did! 



Take Care, 



Leanne.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Etiquette: Not Just for Dinner Parties

As I've mentioned before, I'm a gym junkie, so naturally I tend to notice things, little quirks and habits, that people tend to do at the gym (I have them too). Whether it's getting all of your gear situated by setting up your i-pod and water bottle before commencing your cardio workout (I do this), or methodically going from working your upper body to lower body in a circuit style routine, you name it we all have something that we do, whether we're conscious of it or not.

It's from observing people (which you can't help but do when you're confined in a space with people for an extended duration of time) that I have come to notice that not everyone in the gym follows gym etiquette. This may be because people may be unaware, or simply forget when they're "in the zone", but I thought I'd write about the top 6 gym etiquette practices that people tend to over look (whether it's one rule or all of them). 

Rule #1: Disinfect & Wipe Down Equipment After You've Used Them


Think of all the dirt and germs that can accumulate and then rub off on you from equipment that is dirty; I'm pretty sure you wouldn't like to sit down on a sweaty bench, and neither would the next person after you. Be polite, please wipe.

Rule #2: Don't Hogg Equipment


Don't hogg equipment, especially if it's a busy time of the day and you can clearly see people waiting for the machine that you are on. We all want to get the most out of our workout, so please be gracious to your fellow gym members and share the equipment.

Rule #3: Put Your Weights and Equipment Back In Its Rightful Place



It's just like your parents and kindergarten teachers used to tell you: put things back where you found them. However, if you found them on the gym floor, refer to the other parental/kindergarten advice "always leave a space in better shape than you found it". I know it may sound juvenile but these are valuable pieces of advice that can make your life easier and a more enjoyable environment for everyone (this translates into other areas of life other than the gym as well). 

Rule #4: Don't Talk On Your Phone



Okay, I'm not saying that if someone calls you shouldn't answer you phone at all. However, if you must take a call (emergencies do happen) please make it short and do not be obnoxiously loud, or call the person back after your workout. This isn't just for your fellow gym members' sake but your own; I'm sure you'd like to concentrate on your workout as well without being interrupted with a phone call.

Rule #5: Do Not Eat On The Gym Floor


Unless it's a granola bar or protein bar (something with minimal mess and odour), you should not bring food onto the gym floor. Not only can it be messy but it can be annoying to other members. If you can, save the snack for after your workout.

Rule #6: Do Not Scream Or Grunt Excessively

This photo was taken by :Pavel Ythjall of  Pavel Ythjall Photography. 

Loud grunting and screaming is not necessary. Not only can this be very distracting to everyone around you but it can be alarming to others if all of a sudden they hear a loud scream. Please keep the volume to a minimum.


If people follow these 6 simple rules of etiquette, everyone using the gym could be equally happy and enjoy their workout.

Take Care,

Leanne.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Remarkable Rustic

One design trend that I have fallen in love with this year is rustic design. Maybe it's the inner country girl in me, but I love the warm and inviting look that rustic designs bring to the home. Here are some looks are some of my personal favourites: 




Whether you're adding accent pieces such as a chandelier & picture frames, refinishing the front of your home or cottage, or redesigning your kitchen, a rustic design can add charm and natural beauty to a space. 

Take Care,

Leanne.