MIMM #11: Thanksgiving Weekend

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, which means I have today off but this weekend has still felt much too short. I suppose that is nothing new since time spent at home in the company of my marvelous family is never too long. This Thanksgiving definitely felt rushed. Last year I had the opportunity to press leaves, pick pumpkins and help my mom with fall decorations, but this year I barely had time to eat pie let alone bake one! MiMM

My mom and Emma came to pick me up on Friday morning after the completion of my three-hour morning Nutrition lecture. I was all packed and ready to go, so what should have been a fun and marvelous class seemed to drag on. I fed them lunch at my cafeteria before we headed back onto the highway (thankfully with minimal traffic) stopping only briefly at Ikea to look for a highchair (unsuccessfully). I did find a duvet to layer beneath my quilt since my residence room is already starting to get pretty chilly.1385625_351530854982699_1631944843_n

Three weeks away from home was much too long. Friday evening I caught up with Elyse, Caitlin and Carly over a marvelous bonfire. I never really realized how complimentary chocolate, roasted marshmallows and graham crackers could be since I usually eat them separately as opposed to in a s’mores. By 12:30 a.m. I called it a night, which was hard to do since we had so much to discuss.1373539_351530628316055_375718286_n 1384731_351530618316056_1310684331_n

We hosted Thanksgiving appetizers and dinner on Saturday for my Grandparents. Besides a batch of brownies I barely baked but I have a few recipes to try out later today before heading back to University. I’ll save the meal for Wednesday’s post but the eats were more marvelous than ever. With a 21lb Turkey and only 10 guests (…but Lottie prefers sweet potatoes so really 9) there were lots of leftovers for sandwiches. Lottie definitely entertained us for the night with her smiles, giggles and waves. She’s sitting proudly on her own and I can’t wait to see her again dressed up for Halloween. Last year she was not born yet so we were all very thankful to be blessed with her company this weekend. 1377174_351530868316031_810513216_n 1379028_351530624982722_165337714_n

Sunday we were all still tired from the turkey’s tryptophan (kidding), which meant a later start to my studying session. I worked on a Library Assignment and I reviewed a bit of Psychology and Chemistry for my upcoming midterms but I was easily distracted by PVR (I haven’t watched television in 5 weeks) running errands with my dad, preparing homemade turkey soup and baking gingerbread cookies. A less eventful but equally marvelous day to say the least!1380896_351530621649389_2025998700_n

Today I’m meeting Joyce and tonight my dad will be driving me back to residence. It seemed short but I guess that’s partly due to the commute and the fact that schoolwork isn’t easing up. No complaining here, Thanksgiving was marvelous. I’m so thankful for my entire life including but not limited to my family, friends, health, home, education, food, emotions, challenges, privileges and abilities. What are you grateful for?  Don’t forget to check out Katie’s MIMM roundup – Friday she featured some marvelous snacks and marvelous advantages of being a mom and this morning she posted a picture of Rocco (Now 15 weeks) as baby Dracula! He is so precious!  Here’s to making Mondays a bit more marvelous even if it means I have to go back to school and leave my family! ♥ Molly

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy

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MIMM #2: Weekend Recap

This weekend was filled with some pretty marvelous events. I love going to the gym to swim, grocery shopping is always fun, and I treated myself to Ice Cream and Booster Juice which were both delicious. I am also proud that I conquered my fear of driving on “major” streets, since up until now I’ve only practiced in parking lots and on rural streets. My G2 will bring with it more independence, which is something I gladly welcome. This weekend my dad let me drive to the grocery store and I was rewarded with a venti coffee. The Longos I drove to is brand new, so in hopes of attracting customers, they offer one free Starbucks tea or coffee (any size) a day to “Longos Members” which is a free reward club. Starbucks launched a “True North” blend, which is the mildest roast, and it might just be my new favourite (I normally like a darker, richer blend). Check out this cute cart and amazing beverage holder! The cart is perfect for when you need to pick up a few times that are too heavy to carry! The layout of the store is beautiful and it reminds me a lot of Whole foods as it features beautifully arranged Salad Bars, Pastry Cases and Organic Produce!

photo-91Saturday and Sunday were great, but Friday was a bit more special. On Friday I got together with Joyce. She lives in Hamilton since she attends McMaster University, but was heading back to her family’s home for the weekend and offered to stop in Oakville for a visit. We find every excuse to get together as we share so many similar interests and values in life. Honestly, sometimes I think she reads my mind because she’s always finishing my sentences. Most of the time we just meet up for coffee in alternating cities, but since she wasn’t in a hurry we decided to switch it up and go downtown.

IMG_5929I met her at the go station and from there we walked down to the lake as it’s only about twenty minutes. I had planned on bringing her to the Marilyn Monroe Café, but I was in need of an immediate caffeine fix so Starbucks was a bit more convenient. As a treat, I got a Mocha Light Frappuchino (my only simple order at Starbucks), and later got a “True North” coffee refill since I am a gold card reward member (and loving that blend). We spent a good hour or so just catching up and to my surprise, she showered me with gifts as a pre-birthday celebration. Joyce just returned from a work conference that was in New York City. Look at what she picked up for me? I am a bit coffee obsessed and since I used to be a Starbucks Barista this gift was perfect.

IMG_5932 IMG_5936Neither one of us purchased anything, but it was fun to soak up the sun and enjoy the downtown scenery. Lululemon had some great sales but I didn’t really need any of my finds. Bluboho is a really cute shop that we looked in, but again nothing caught my eye as a “must have”.

IMG_5938 IMG_5939 IMG_5944We decided to head back to the go-station, but took a much needed detour for frozen yogurt on the way home. You’ll never hear me complain that I am too hot, but we both agreed that we wanted a refreshing treat. I was overwhelmed by the selection of new flavours and had trouble deciding what I wanted to try. I am always really impressed that Yogurty’s dedicates one machine to nut flavours, so that there is no cross contamination. S’mores caught my eye, but I decided to go for fruity flavours instead. I got Raspberry Sorbet and then Tart and Lime Frozen Yogurt. I topped them with mango, lychee and strawberry balls, fresh strawberry and mango pieces, and a few gummies. It was simply delicious.

IMG_5946 IMG_5948 IMG_5951IMG_0101I am looking forward to a lot of fun events this week. Today I am helping out with a room makeover, tomorrow and Wednesday I will be in Toronto, Thursday is my birthday and Friday is well, marvelous nonetheless. I’m even having a girls night/ sleepover on Saturday with two of my best friends from elementary school. It’s going to be busy, but it will definitely be exciting. There is nothing greater than surrounding yourself with opportunities and people that lift you higher, make you laugh and are enjoyable to be around.

MiMM

This post is linked up with Katie’s, Marvelous in My Monday weekly post. Be sure to read what others are finding Marvelous this Monday. Katie’s son Rocco reminds me of the days when Lottie was a newborn. What was marvelous about your weekend?  Any marvelous events planned for this coming week? ♥ Molly

“In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.” – Aristotle 

Whole Foods Trips

To be truthful, as much as I love Whole Foods, I can’t afford to shop there exclusively. If money was unlimited, I would buy only organic and local foods, but let’s get real, I am a student and supporting local farmers isn’t always possible. I wish I had brought my camera on this last trip (All my photos were taken using my iPhone) so that I could have captured the crispness of the fresh fruits, and quality in each of their home products. Typically before heading to grocery stores, I look at flyers to find what is on sale and where it can be found. Some places, for example the Loblaws Superstore, allow me to price match, so I do make the most of deals. As much as I love sales, I don’t limit my shopping to discounts or else I would lack a lot of nutrients in my diet. I am by no means an extreme couponer. One day I hope Trader Joe’s makes its way to Canada, since I have been once before in California, and absolutely fell in love.

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Source: Oakville Whole Foods

photo-77Don’t get me wrong, Whole foods is a great grocery store that offers so many interesting products. It’s excellent for buying supplements or finding “health products” that aren’t accessible at large grocery chains. I love that they place “featured” products at the end of each aisle, usually with a sample accompanying the display. They offer freshly squeezed juices, or “make your own” nut butters, which is pretty cool. The Whole Foods in Oakville also has a large assortment of meats and fish at reasonable prices.

photo-72 photo-75 photo-76 photo-70I could probably spend an entire day looking at their fruit bar, olive selection, hot foods and cold salad bar. I don’t let my nut allergies stop me from my occasional meals there, as their chefs are great at assuring no cross-contamination of ingredients happens in their kitchen. My only concern is individuals mixing up spoons, so I never grab items that are situated directly beside a recipe that contains peanuts, pecans, walnuts or sunflower seeds. While I don’t typically eat almonds, I find I am growing out of this allergy, because when touching them, I don’t react. Their combinations often inspire my own creations, as they list all the ingredients in each blend. Sometimes I wish they used less sauces when cooking certain items, but for the most part their choices suit my taste palette. Artichoke, Tempeh and Falafel are three of my favourites, as I never seem to cook those items on my own. This week, I went to Whole Foods for dinner with Joyce and Chelsea. I had snacked before hand (whoops) so I wasn’t overly hungry, but my meal still managed to add up in price! I got plain endamame, roasted beets, tomato/onion/basil/cucumber salad, tofu, radishes, kale salad in apple cider vinegar, black beans/corn/onion/red pepper salad, steamed broccoli, sliced mushroom, roasted yam, and two sautéed garlic cloves. My selection had enough flavour that I didn’t top it with any dressing or spices.

photo-73 photo-79 photo-71 photo-78 photo-80 photo-82Do you ever feel like grocery stores are great at “grabbing” your money? I always go with a few items on my list, and manage to leave with way more than I intended to. It’s a bit overwhelming to see so many delicious foods. To make the most of my shopping trips, not only do I plan ahead with “Flyer hunting”, I stick to a few rules that I have picked up over the years. Here are my tips for effective shopping!

  • Don’t go to the grocery store hungry! You’ll end up wanting to buy everything, including pre-packaged muffins or cookies that you are better off making from scratch.
  • Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. That is where the freshest foods can typically be found (meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables, breads). The inside aisles are where junk food is often hidden.
  • Try to purchase fruits and vegetables that are in seasons as they’ll be tastier and more affordable! You can always freeze the extras for later.
  • Convenience isn’t everything. Switch to whole oats instead of instant.
  • If you have trouble with serving sizes, buy pre-portioned packages. While it is more expensive, you’ll save money by eating less. Don’t hesitate to buy full-fat products, just make sure you have a smaller quantity.
  • Buy the basics and stick to the four food groups.
  • Don’t purchase foods that have unpronounceable ingredients. The less ingredients, the better. 100% fruit juices, 100% whole grain and foods with less additives tend to be better for you.
  • Choose the least processed foods that are made from whole grain, have less sugar and offer more fiber.
  • “Fat Free” or “Sugar Free” can be deceiving. Food companies know how to fool their customers. Just because it is ____ free does not mean it is healthier. GMO free, additive free, hormone free however, are usually great things to look for.
  • When possible, make your own soups to save yourself the sodium.
  • To save money, try and eat vegetarian protein sources (legumes, beans) several times a week.
  • Pick a rainbow of fruits and vegetables as the colours represent different vitamins and minerals.
  • What you buy is what you’ll have to eat. Choose foods that you genuinely like, not just those that are on sale.
  • Whenever possible, choose foods without added salt. Salt is often added for flavour in packaged items. Get unsalted butter, so that you can control how much you want to add when baking or cooking.
  • Try having tuna or fruit packed in water, instead of oil, broth or juice. Choose frozen vegetables without sauce and frozen fruit without added sugar. This will allow you to have more flexibility when adding dressings, because you can add fresh salt, sauce or sugar without worrying about the pre-existing dressing.
  • Keep staples on hand. Oils, Nut butters, Canned Vegetables, Lentils, Beans, Quinoa, Couscous, Oats, Vinegars can be kept in the pantry for prolonged periods.

photo-74What are your favourite grocery stores and why? Have you developed good shopping techniques? Some grocery stores now offer clothing or and house products. Do you enjoy looking in the home sections or does it distract you from the purpose of your trip? I love grocery shopping with my dad as it’s one of our weekly bonding activities. We bring reusable bags (At some grocery stores you save money, plus it is environmentally friendly) and a cooler bag so that none of our foods get squished or go bad. ♥ Molly

“I can spend hours in a grocery store. I get so excited when I see food, I go crazy. I spend hours arranging my baskets so that everything fits in and nothing gets squashed.” – Cameron Diaz