Monday, October 27, 2014

7 Beautiful Planners For 2015

4. Kate Spade  ♥  5. Hobonichi Planner  ♥  6. Kikki K  ♥  7. Filo Fax

I LOVE paper goods, washi tapes, agendas, planning, and stationery. They give me a chance to breathe in my semi-circus life of work, mommy-hood, and being a domestic goddess. ha ha. Also, I'm a planner and design addict.

Before I purchased my 2015 planner/agenda, I did major research. I watched videos, read reviews, and looked at many instagram hashtags on each organizer. The above goods were the top 7 people loved and adored. The most popular being the, Erin Condren Life Planner, and the Filo Fax. Each one is detailed below.

 1. Erin Condren {$50-$75}
IG Image
I love the Erin Condren line, especially the Foil and the Quotes version. It has a lot to offer and it is versatile. The Life Planner has tabs for every month, weekly pages are laid out vertically, additional notes to the side, stickers for planning, cards, gift tags, folder, zip lock pouch, and much much more. Also comes in a Teacher Planner (horizontal layout), and a Wedding Planner versions. I love how people decorate their Erin Condren planners on Instagram. So creative. Watch the video on the website for additional features.

2. Lilly Pulitzer {$17-34}
The Lilly Pulitzer Agenda was what I ended up purchasing in size large for the last quarter of this year and the whole 2015. The preppiness, water color art, built in elastic closure, and the chic stickers suited my fancy. The layout allowed me to jot at least 20-30 things to do in one day (similar layout to my 2014 planner). With my work schedule, my to do list is rather vast. A few cons: it has an extra yearly tabbed calendar at the front (redundant), and it can be a bit noisy with the watercolor graphics. Since I like to stuff my planner with important documents and inserted card stock, I had to take out the extra calendar at the front (for more space) and placed it in my other wire bound journal. Although I wish it had more to offer, I still adore this agenda.

 3. The Simplified Planner {$58.00}
This is a VERY nice UTILITARIAN planner. I should have gotten this one instead. It has laminated monthly tabs and each date gets its own page with a to do list, day planner, notes, dinner, and inspirational quotes. It is designed for productivity, not so much to over-design. Still, I like having a blank canvas to play and over-design. ☺ Visit the link for the product video.

 4. Kate Spade {$36.00}
Not exactly sure what happened to Kate Spade's leather agendas. It seems like they were discontinued and no longer being sold at I preferred those with its refillable pages than this spiral bound. The quotes, interior pocket, and elastic closure are nice. 

  5. Hobonichi Planner {$27.98 converted from yen}
Image by FiloFax Love
This planner is new to me and apparently popular in Japan. It's unique: graph paper, book mark charm, Japanese dates and quotes, no spiral or wire binding, and it is shipped from Japan. Many people swear by this planner. "I can not live a day without my Hobonichi," said one Instagrammer. It appears that people use the Hobonichi Planner more as a doodling journal. It makes sense! The only caveat are its thin pages (bleed through) and shipping that could be slow and costly since it's coming from overseas.

  6. Kikki K {$39.95-$79.95}  
LOVE this planner. I'm starting to warm up to the idea of getting a planner in a binder. It is  easier to take the pages out to write on, than to have uneven pages and a spiral or wire bound in the way. I love the design, the tabs, and how much can be put inside its storage and divider tabs. My gripe is the perpetual calendar. Filling in the dates in monthly and weekly calendars frustrates me. Also, this planner can get a bit pricey since the weekly calendar refills are purchased separately along with other refillable pages, such as addresses and etc. Whenever purchasing, read the description for what comes with each planner. This will be my planner for 2016 - I. CAN. NOT. WAIT. I love the accessories and the stationery the website offers - huge bonus.

  7. Filo Fax {$41.00-$152.00}
IG Image @SaraZorel
The other most popular planner. The Filo Fax is similar to the Kikki-K but has a lot more to offer in its refillable page layouts. Many planner addicts maintain multiple Filo-Fax organizers for different purposes: art/doodling journal, diary, diet/fitness log, and list challenges are among other uses. It's versatile and cute. Should I purchase a Filo Fax in the future, it would have to be the bigger ones.  


+ Target (dollar section)

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Garlic Ghee Brussel Sprouts

People hate Brussel Sprouts because they've been introduced to it incorrectly. The majority think it's gross and bitter, but when cooked the correct way, it's fantastic.

Here is a recipe for a slow cooked side dish of Brussel Sprouts. Once cooked, it melts in your mouth and you'll be asking for seconds.

Garlic Ghee Brussel Sprouts
by Elle A

1 10oz package of brussel sprouts
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 medium onion chopped
3 tbsp ghee
1 c water
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt to taste

  1. Cut the base of the brussel sprouts and then cut in half lengthwise (see picture). Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, saute the garlic in medium heat. Once golden, add onion and cook until translucent. 
  3. In the cup of water, mix the sugar (or honey) and salt, then pour in the pot. Mix in the ghee until melted. 
  4. Add the brussel sprouts in the pot and mix. 
  5. Cover and put on low heat. Mix several times in the span of 20 minutes until soft and tender.
  6. Add salt to taste.
  7. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Participate in the 100 Happy Days Challenge ✓

I participated and completed the 100 Happy Days project earlier this year via instagram. The intent is good. Basically find at least one good thing a day, document it through pictures via social media of choice, and see how it can positively affect your day. It's brilliant. When I finished it, I didn't continue the challenge, and my days weren't as happy.

Below are some of my documentations of my 100 Happy Days of Challenge. My only gripe is that I can not search my instagram profile for feeds with a #100HappyDays. It's unfortunate. I did, however complete it. Just go to my instagram profile to check out the pictures.

I also joined a community, They have a free app you can post happy moments, etc. along with other people. Get the app and read other peoples happy moments and let your life overfill with love, joy, and happiness.
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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Wafle Tortowe

Wafle Tortowe

I really didn't follow directions on how to properly make this European dessert. There was a step where you boil a can of condensed milk in water for 30 minutes. It made me feel uncomfortable boil metal with something inside, so I opted for the next best and simple thing and just mixed everything together and then spread. It was still fantastic!

Wafle Tortowe
By Elle A
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cool Time:  1-2 hours (optional)
1 packet of round wafers (or any shape)
1 can of light condensed milk
1/4 c of skim milk
2 tbsp of butter
1 small package of sliced almonds (or other nuts)
strawberries or any fruit to top it with

  1. In a baking bowl, whisk light condensed milk, skim milk, and melted butter until smooth. Set aside. 
  2. On a large plate, drizzle the mixture between wafers and spread. Spread it on the top surface as well. 
  3. Sprinkle with nuts
  4. Top with strawberries
  5. Let the cake settle in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before serving, or eat right away.
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Monday, March 24, 2014

Smoky Paprika Chipotle Chicken Thighs

This was an EASY slap together dinner. It was basically a mix-then-stick-in-the-oven type of cooking. It is also delicious and full of flavor.

About the spice, VG's Smoky Paprika Chipotle. This was a spice I found at my parents' spice cupboard. It was purchased at TJ Maxx in a set. It was just sitting there untouched, so one day I decided to spice chicken with it. It tasted fantastic! I was ready to order it in bulk online but decided to check the local TJ Maxx... and behold, there it was on the shelf. I'm not sure how long they will stock this spice in their shelves, but I'm glad that it's still there. Otherwise, you can click on the link and purchase it here.

So, here's my dilemma. People usually give the dark meat to people they like less. If it were me, I'd say... "Hell yeah! Give me the dark meat!" -- Though chicken breasts are the healthier option, I prefer all the other parts of the chicken (sans bones, gizzards, chicken feet, face, butt) - simply because they're juicier and taste better. I'll take chicken thighs over breasts any day.

Smoky Paprika Chipotle Chicken Thighs
By Elle A
Serving Size: 6
Marinate Time:  1 hour (optional)
Cook Time:  40 minutes
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup Water
3 tbsp VG's Smoky Paprika Chipotle *
6 Boneless Chicken Thighs
Salt & Pepper as needed

  1. Preheat oven 325° F
  2. Mix olive oil, vegetable oil, and water in a mixing bowl. 
  3. Add VG's Smoky Paprika Chipotle spice to the mixing bowl and whisk.
  4. Sprinkle salt and pepper to chicken thighs then add to the bowl. Coat evenly with the mixture. 
  5. Marinate for one hour (optional)
  6. Place chicken thighs in a glass oven safe container and bake for 20 minutes.
  7. Take out of the oven and flip each chicken thigh. Bake for another 20 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.
  8. Serve with brown rice and a side of vegetables.
  9. Add salt and pepper as needed.
* If you don't have this spice, try your own blend of these spices: chili pepper, mesquite, garlic powder, salt, pepper, paprika, chipotle, and sugar.
* We tend to like our chicken with more flavor, so we add more spice to it for kick.
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Friday, March 21, 2014

Minced Beef Wellington

I used Veggie Crumbles for this recipe instead of ground beef.
Next time I make it, it will be the real meat.


Due to how the puff pastry defrosted, I couldn't roll it like the
recipe describes. Instead, I placed the stuffing in the middle, brought
in two sides of the pastry and sealed it at the top and at the sides.
It still turned our rather well.

The first time I tasted Beef Wellington was at my friends' wedding reception circa 2012. It had a crunchy outside and a moist meat inside. I always wanted to duplicate the dish, and even though my version could never top what I had at that reception, I finally got a chance to attempt cooking it a couple of nights ago. I made it vegetarian (Griller Crumbles instead of ground beef) so that my mother could taste it.

This recipe wasn't bad, considering the use of vegetarian meat - my husband loved it. His exact quote, "I will be asking you to make this often!" -- Next time I make it, I'll use REAL LEAN meat. It will taste loads better. Can not wait to cook it again - perhaps next month. 

Here is my take on Oh Sweet Day's Minced Beef Wellington.

Minced Beef Wellington
By Oh Sweet Day
Serving Size: 6
1 medium onion
1 carrot
1 stick of celery
1 potato
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
2 tablespoon thyme
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 lb good quality minced beef
salt and pepper to taste
500 g puff pastry

  1. Preheat over to 350F.
  2. Peel and chop the onion, carrot, celery and potato into one centimeter cubes.
  3. Place all vegetables, rosemary leaves, and thyme into a frying pan with olive oil. Fry and stir for about 8 minutes or until vegetables soften and color.
  4. Put vegetables into large bowl to cool completely.
  5. Add the minced beef to the bowl with salt and pepper and half the egg. Scrunch together.
  6. Roll out pastry to size of small tea towel.
  7. Place mince mix along one long side, in sausage shape.
  8. Brush edges of pastry with egg and roll pastry to cover mince completely. Squeeze ends together.
  9. Put onto baking tray, brush with remaining egg. Bake for an hour until golden.Slice and serve with gravy.
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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Flavoured Water

I started making my own fruit water using my Prodyne Fruit Infusion Pitcher. Every morning, I'd drink 16.9 fl oz - the size of a water bottle. It's refreshing and cleansing. 

There are many recipes of how to flavour water on Pinterest and I can't wait to try some. But in the pictures in this post, I cut lemons, squeezed some, added strawberries, piled them inside the hallow rod, filled it with water, and then let it sit overnight inside the refrigerator. By morning, the water is flavoured. I don't add any sugar or any artificial sweeteners. I'm trying to get used to the real sweetness and taste of some foods in its natural raw state. This whole pitcher can fill 5.5 water bottles. I love love love love love it.

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Parmesan Garlic Spaghetti Olio With Red & Green Peppers

I make one pasta dish a week and it's usually a variation of Spaghetti Olio. In Italian, Olio means oil. So this spaghetti dish is oil based, simple, and versatile. You can't go wrong with an olive oil and garlic base - and then whatever else you want to to flavor the dish. What's fantastic about it is that my whole family loves it. Our picky toddler can devour this in massive amounts. It is a winner and it's soooo easy to make.

Parmesan Garlic Spaghetti Olio 
With Red & Green Peppers
By Elle A
Serving Size: 4
Total Time:  35 minutes
4 Garlic Cloves
1/2 Large Chopped Onion
1/2 Large Red Pepper Chopped
1/2 Large Green Pepper Chopped
10 Cherry Tomatoes Quartered
2 tbsp ghee or butter
1 Box of Spaghetti
1/2 cup Olive Oil
3/4 cup Water
2 tbsp Garlic Powder
3 tbsp Parmesan Cheese
Salt & Pepper
6 Strips Turkey Bacon Chopped

  1. Saute garlic in a large pot with 2 tbsp ghee or butter until golden. Add the chopped onions and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat. 
  2. Add the red pepper and green pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Set it low heat for another 5 minutes. Continue stirring. Add salt and pepper as desired and then set aside. 
  3. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. 
  4. Cook turkey bacon strips according to package directions and set aside. Chop once cooled.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, mix together 1/2 cup olive oil, 3/4 cup water, 2 tbsp garlic powder, and 3 tbsp Parmesan Cheese. Add Salt and pepper to taste. Mix.
  6. Add the cooked garlic, onions, and the red and green pepper. Mix.
  7. Add more salt, pepper, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese to taste. Mix.
  8. Mix in or top with cherry tomatoes.
* To make this diabetic friendly, use Dreamfields Spaghetti
* Substitute tomatoes with chopped sun dried tomatoes for a different taste
* For a kick, sprinkle crushed red peppers
* Omit turkey bacon to make it vegetarian
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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Copycat Panera Asian Sesame Dressing

In an effort to consume more greens in our diet, I've been packing salad for our lunch to bring to work. Every morning I chop fresh vegetables. There is something serene and peaceful about prepping veggies. Maybe it's just me, but it puts me in a happy place where time stops and life is nothing but simple.

With eating more greens, I've started to make my own salad dressings. My personal favourite is the dressing that accompanies Panera's, Asian Sesame Chicken Salad. I love sesame taste and the dressing has a sweetness to it. I haven't checked how much it costs at the restaurant to purchase just the dressing compared to finding the recipe and slapping it together myself, however I chose the later for cooking experience.

It's fantastic! I got the recipe from She has the recipe down to the chicken it comes with. Here's the fantastic recipe for the whole shabang. LOVE IT! Tastes like the real thing.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Complete a 30 Miles in 30 Days Challenge - DONE ✓

01.16.2014 - 3 miles
01.17.2014 - 2 miles
01.18.2014 - 2.25 miles
01.19.2014 - 3.25 miles
01.20.2014 - 4 miles
01.21.2014 - 1 mile
01.23.2014 - 3 miles
01.24.2014 - 3.5 miles
01.26.2014 - 3.25 miles
01.28.2014 - 2.5 miles
01.29.2014 - 5 miles
Total miles  - 32.75 miles

YEAH! 30 miles in less than 15 days. I feel wonderful! Next challenge is to run 60 miles in 30 days. Definitely doable. This challenge continues.

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