A couple years ago we were inspired by lululemon's holiday campaign and vowed that our future Christmas gifts would always be in the name of "giving presence"... an experience to share or something thoughtful to remind ourselves of one another. This year, our blog has been a big part of our friendship so giving presence was best done by commemorating what we've poured our heart and soul into.
We ordered custom flannels through Shop Spenny - an awesome brand started by a friend of Mad's at Queen's. We asked her to find colours as on-brand with bronze&gold as she could and we think you'll agree she nailed it! To celebrate the success we've had with the blog we put on our shirts, bought some balloons, and wrangled a photographer to do a little photoshoot with us (thanks Joey). All in the name of FTB.. for the blog.
We hope you had a wonderful Christmas - filled with love, laughter, and soaking up the moments that matter.
Mad & Teal
One of our favourite things about the holidays is coming home to our families traditions. We both arrived home for the holidays at the end of this week and nothing put us more in the spirit than our mom’s Christmas decor and our dogs lounging by the fire. That being said, a huge part of holiday tradition for us surrounds food. Timeless recipes that have been in the family for years...that have evolved into crowd favs and known staples. In the spirit of giving, and the spirit of eating, we thought we'd share some of our top favs with everyone.
A few of our favourite Christmas recipes:
M: Bits and Bites- these are a world favourite and are demanded every year by coworkers, friends, and family alike. The recipe was on back of the Shreddies box when Kare and Bri were first married. They have since mastered it.
6 cups Shreddies
5 cups Cheerios
1 bag pretzel sticks
1 can mixed nuts
1 can cashews
1 bag Goldfish or President’s Choice Penguins
3 cups vegetable oil
2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
3 tsp garlic salt
Toss dry ingredients in large roast pan, stir sauce and pour sauce over ingredients, mix well then bake at 250 degrees for 2 hours with no lid, stirring every ten minutes. Sprinkle with garlic salt half way through baking.
T: Cheesecake- This cheesecake is a family favourite and it’s not a Smith holiday meal without it appearing. It’s simple yet delicious and guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser.
1 ¼ cup graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup white sugar
⅓ cup melted butter
Mix crumbs and sugar then pour in melted butter. Mix and press in dish. Heat at 300 for 15 minutes and then let cool.
1 package cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar
Blend cream cheese and icing sugar together.
1 package dream whip
Prepare 1 package of dream whip and mix and whip with the cream cheese and icing sugar mixture.
Spread over graham cracker crust and refrigerate until cool.
Spread your favourite pie filling (cherry, blueberry, etc) or fresh fruit!
M: Ginger Sparklers- Kare was addicted to these before Mad was born. She couldn’t stay ahead of herself with the batches. It goes without saying, my ‘surprise’ red hair hasn’t skipped a generation and is instead a result of actual ginger. Thanks Kare.
⅔ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
Cream together butter, sugar, molasses and egg until fluffy. Mix dry ingredients and stir into creamed mixture. Shape into balls and roll in sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes.
T: Peanut Butter Balls- Anyone who knows me knows that peanut butter is easily my favourite food group. These PB balls are always my first choice from Aunt Gale’s plate of homemade holiday treats.
½ cup corn syrup
½ cup brown sugar
Melt over hot water until hot
Remove from heat and add:
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups corn flakes
Mix well together and stir into cornflakes. Roll into balls.
As the Christmas parties vamp up, goodie trays-a-plenty, we'll be reaching for our favourites and more. The holidays are a time to indulge... in the cooking and baking we all look forward to every year and in the many traditions of the season.
Merry Christmas from bronze&gold!!
Lots of love,
Mad & Teal
Mad could not be more honoured to feature her mentor as a guest writer on bronze&gold! Leah was her manager at the P&CC, but sparked so much more than just a passion for printing and copying. Nowhere will you find a more bubbly personality or contagious smile. Leah spends her days inspiring others: living an active life in Calgary, Alberta with her husband Justin and their puppies, Dex and Dash.
Ever since watching Meg Jay’s 15min TED Talk “Why 30 is not the new 20” (see below) in 2013, I’ve lived with the mentality that your 20’s are the defining decade of your life. This philosophy has been at the forefront of almost all major and minor life decision I’ve made thus far - from everyday nutritional habits, to family planning, to career development. It has challenged me on several occasions to think long and hard about my future and the steps necessary to get me towards where I want to be.
Within the last year alone, I’ve changed cities, bought a house, leased a car, was hired at a new job (only to quit that job 8 months later in order to follow a career path that brought me more personal satisfaction and happiness), got married, had a honeymoon AND welcomed two new puppies into my family – phewf! If that isn’t a defining year in my life, I don’t know what is!
By no means have I figured out the secret to thriving in your twenties, though. In fact, if you sat in on any one of the hundreds of life chats I have with my two best girlfriends, you would probably think that we have no hope for the future, our lives are disasters, and we are all going to end up jobless and alone #classicgirltalk. Despite those conversations (most of which we are realistically waaayy too hard on ourselves and… maybe a tad over dramatic), I do have a good understanding of the three pillars that outline my own definition of happiness and success. Focussing on family, health and personal development has always fuelled me and made me my happiest self. These three pillars have helped me develop a series of goals to focus on when setting a course for the adventures of life.
Family Amongst all the changes that 2015 brought, at the core of every decision was also a discussion with my best friend and now-husband. I count my lucky stars everyday that I was able to meet him so early on in life and to have already shared so many defining moments with him by my side. He has always been my biggest cheerleader and confidant and brings so much humour and compassion to my life. Of all the adventures from the past year, marrying my husband was the ultimate highlight (planning the wedding before we said our “I Do’s” was a whole other undertaking that would likely require a blog post of it’s own)! To me, this meant that we were able to start a new chapter of our life together and that we were no longer just planning for the two of us, but also now needed to start thinking more seriously of plans that involve two other humans that would join our family in the years to come. Budgets, lifestyle changes (to ensure we stay on budget) and values are now part of our everyday conversation so that we can better plan for a future we want to build together. This may cause some people anxiety and seem a little bit daunting, but growing our family is truly one of the most exciting things that I look forward to – so why wouldn’t we start planning now? I can’t think of anything that fills my bucket more than sharing life’s moments with the people you love most and that love you just as much!
Health Being immersed in the health & sport industry for 4 years of my undergraduate degree and 3 years post degree has given me HUGE appreciation for my health and the wonders of the human body. I believe a lot of people take their health for granted, and may not understand what their own body’s fullest potential looks like. As I began a new path of personal training/nutritional consulting this year, it has urged me to take a long hard look at my current lifestyle and practice what I preach. I’ve developed a new appreciation for the phrase “listen to your body” and over the year have really tried to hone in on the foods that, when paired or unpaired with exercise, makes me feel most energized, or leaves me feeling tired and bloated. Every body is different and requires different fuel to keep it functioning at it’s best. It has been pretty fun and empowering going through the process of understanding my body’s favourite foods (not just my taste buds) and is something that I think others should try as well! Placing emphasis on my health has not only allowed me to live with more endorphins each and every day, but has also brought benefit to my clients, as I am able to relate to them on a different level and speak realistically about goal setting and achievement. We don’t get a practice body, be sure to fuel yours to it’s potential!
“When was the last time you tried something for the first time?”
This quote was shared by the Tough Mudder announcer right before my team left the start line this past September, 2015. It has stuck with me ever since because I think it’s an awesome outlook to have in life - always be pushing yourself to try new things or learn something new. It could be anything from a new recipe, book, or career. In some of my past jobs, I have had a hard time feeling “fulfilled.” It was (and still is) hard to figure out what that extra something would be to make it a dream job or something worth sticking with for the long haul. In most cases, it came down to challenge. If it wasn’t challenging me, it wasn’t changing me. Or if it was challenging me, was it changing me for the better, or in the direction I wanted to go? This year, I made some hard decisions and left some amazing coworkers, but what I am most proud of is that even when things were still a little bit unclear, I stayed true to myself and made decisions for me instead of pleasing others (which is something I need to continue to get better at). Now I find myself in a new job, which I am over the moon excited about, in a field that I am passionate about and with mentors who see my potential and want to invest time into teaching me how to grow in the health industry!
These are the three pillars that, when I take care of and find success in, end up fuelling my life for the better and keeps me focussed during times of change. Bringing intention to what fuels you and not comparing your path to anyone else’s will (hopefully) make an impact on how you choose to define your 20’s, and as a result, the future you! If you aren’t already taking steps towards what really matters to you, why wait?! ;)
The holiday season and end of the year is a stressful time for a lot of us (especially Arnie in Jingle All the Way, see below). Between final exams, finishing up projects at work, Christmas shopping, and numerous holiday get-togethers, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and like we’re being pulled in all directions. That being said, this time of year is the ideal time to reflect on how fortunate we really are and although we may be stressed, remember how truly lucky we are to have the stresses that we do. One of the best “stress- busters”, we find, is to take a moment, think about everything we’re stressing over, and attempt to shift perspective.
To give you some examples, these are some of our current stresses and why they’re not really so bad at all. Heck, even just writing this post and thinking about it all in depth brought our stress levels way down!!
T- At this moment, I have 4 days of work left…4 days!! Yikes!! Thinking about the amount of work I need to get done in these next 4 days before I can leave for the holidays has been making me lose sleep for weeks. Reminding myself how fortunate I am to have been hired right out of my Masters for a job that is helping me head off on an Australian adventure is all I need to reassure myself that it will all get done.
M- This week, before I can return home to Knights for Christmas I have to successfully defend my Masters research proposal. While I’ve gone through the ups and downs of both loving and questioning my degree this fall, a wise pal of mine once made me feel better by telling me, roughly, “Mad, it’s okay to be down but think about it from a different angle and it will help get you out of the rut” (thanks Andrew). Remembering how many people in the world, especially females, do not have the opportunity to attend school, definitely reminded me that I should never take my education for granted and how lucky I was to not only be in school but to be pursuing a graduate degree at a top university.
T- The holidays call for squeezing in what seems like a million holiday parties, family gatherings, and get-togethers with friends. This seems to have taken to another level for me this year as I have a lot of special people in my life to spend time with before I head down under. Looking at my December calendar and the number of events scheduled is definitely overwhelming but then I remember just how lucky I am to have such incredible people in my life. I am so grateful that my family and friends are healthy and that I am able to spend time with them (even if a few are via Facetime dates). I really am fortunate to be surrounded by such an inspiring and supportive group.
M- I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t stressing about my dwindling savings account this holiday season (what 20-something isn’t?). This is the first year in many years that I do not have a part-time job so I have a specific amount of money set aside to spend on my friends and family thanks to my summer job… Needless to say, there ain’t any more coming in before the 25th. I LOVE buying special gifts for people, no matter what time of year, but I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that ‘special’ is going to be taking a more ‘thoughtful’ route this time around (granted it was from the sale bin, Slate knows not to expect a Gucci tie this year). Perspective shift: I could not be luckier or more spoiled as Kare and Bri are so lovingly supporting me financially through my Masters degree and have agreed that I did my time in the retail world. I know not to take this kind of privilege for granted. At the same time, I know that this is only temporary and that I will be in a position in coming years to spoil my loved ones to my liking. I also know that in the meantime, they’ll love me no matter how random or homemade their presents may be.
Thinking about our stresses as things we're lucky to have is helpful, but we know it’s easier said than done. It’s important to remember that putting things into perspective doesn’t mean you need to feel bad or guilty for feeling overwhelmed. It’s simply a good reminder not to take anything for granted. It is also a reminder to continue to consider what really matters in life, in the bigger picture. Often a short reflection of these two themes will bring new light to what you’re stressing over and help it to melt away. If all else fails, an abundance of upcoming Christmas baking will be sure to melt stresses and worries away (and our taste buds couldn’t be more excited!). On that note, stay tuned for some of our favourite family Christmas recipes coming soon!
Lots of love,
Mad & Teal
Over a year ago I started a 30 day vegan challenge. My main reasons for doing the challenge were a curiosity of the health benefits and because my sister challenged me to give it a try. For the entire 30 days I did not eat meat, dairy, eggs, or anything containing animal by-products. As I researched recipes and vegan- friendly restaurants, I quickly learned about animal welfare and the environmental consequences of the meat and dairy industry. By the end of the challenge, being vegan was not just about health and being competitive, it was for moral and ethical reasons too. I wanted to limit my support of factory farms making it an easy decision to continue.
For the first few months I continued my strict vegan diet; however as time went on, I slowly started to become more lenient. I still ate completely vegan at home and if there was a vegan option when I was out I would definitely do it but I enjoyed dessert at Christmas and at friends’ birthdays and other special occasions. Things changed for me this past summer though. I started considering myself a “flexegan” aka a flexible vegan. I still ate vegan 98% of the time but I just couldn’t turn down the occasional summer ice cream. I also went on a trip to Canada’s east coast with my boyfriend and had to try one of the famous lobster rolls at Dave’s Lobster in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
I spent a solid few weeks stressing about what my dietary “label” was and how to “define” my diet. I want to limit my support of factory farming so for me it is an easy decision to not eat beef, chicken, or pork. I do however come from a farming family and grew up on the standard meat, potatoes, and vegetable dinners so my decision to not eat meat has been a bit of a transition for my family. I have started incorporating eggs into my diet on occasion for their nutritional benefit and because brunch is just so hard as a vegan! I actually have a friend of a friend who is vegan except for brunch. I also love seafood and realized that I do not have to forbid myself from eating something I love and that is also so good for me.
It took awhile to come to the realization that I don’t need an official label. Although, I technically don’t fall into the category of vegan or vegetarian or even pescatarian, it is perfectly okay. There are no food police so there’s no need to feel guilty or be called out for “cheating”. This is why I’ve really gravitated towards the term flexegan. Our overall goal is to limit our intake of meat and animal products while still enjoying life to the fullest, including the occasional ice cream, omelet, and poutine.
I think the most important take home message is that we should really try to focus on reducing our overall meat and dairy consumption not only for the sake of the environment but for our health in general. I won’t bore you with the facts but if every Canadian ate one meatless day a week it would go a long way towards helping our planet. So I’m asking you to give it a try! Incorporating protein, carbs, and healthy fats at each meal will ensure that you feel full and satisfied. One of my favourite vegan meals is a mexican fiesta bowl where I combine brown rice, black beans, avocado, corn, peppers, sweet potatoes, and salsa- it’s so yummy! If an entire day sans meat sounds a bit too overwhelming, start with a Meatless Monday tomorrow until dinner! Eat breakfast and lunch without meat to start and see how you feel!
Feel free to contact me or comment below for more tips and recipe ideas! :)
Lots of love,
My favourite yoga studio in the whole wide world is in Kingston, Ontario and is yoga-by-donation. Pay what you can. It’s my kind of place - a solid mix between exposed-brick chic, graffiti street style, and elegant zen. Do you feel yourself beginning to unwind as you read that description? It’s not my writing, it’s the studio. It has that kind of an effect!
The debit-card-carrying student in me tries to bring somewhere between 7 and 10 dollars change per class. There’s a donation box at the front of the studio; picture one of those mailboxes with the flap you see fixed to the brick at people’s front doors. It always thrills me to drop my loonies and toonies in the slit and hear them clank - a pride if you will. One time I had to open the box to make change for myself and realized that other patrons are dropping in more than a handful of loonies and toonies. There were twenties in there. Abundantly so. Still, I liked the clank of my loons and toons.
Now that you’ve got the context I will set the stage for the real story here, and hopefully the life lesson at the expense of my own dignity. It was the middle of January and the first year Masters student in me had a serious case of the winter blues. I’d exhausted the phone-my-boyfriend-and-whine-about-it card and decided I had to be a big girl and deal with it in a big girl way. I would muster up the will power to get my butt to the yoga studio. But wait, first I needed to find the money. My donation!
It was the dead of winter and I didn’t feel like trekking all the way to the bank… just making it two blocks to the yoga studio was enough pep in my step for one day. There had to be change somewhere in my apartment. Ah ha! In the living room we had a jar we so eloquently titled the “crack change jar”, let me see if there are a couple lingering loonies and toonies remaining from the number of times my housemates and I had drunkenly ordered Dominos. I go rifling through the jar…. a Bahamian dollar, a Jamaican coin the size of a dime, and a whopping total of 0.45 cents Canadian. Oh boy. Could drunken Mad not have been more considerate of later Mad trying to right her emotions?
I rationalized that it was pay what you can. But my morals told me that walking in with a lululemon yoga mat, Nike sneakers, UnderArmour tights, a lulu tank, a Canada Goose jacket, and an iPhone in my hand painted a much different picture than the 0.45 cents I tightly clenched in my fist. Play it cool Mad, it’s just this once. You’ll get ‘em back next time.
This time after class when I made my donation, the embarrassing combination of nickels, dime (yes, just one) and even a couple (discontinued) pennies rained down into the mailbox with such an embarrassing clink I ran out the door with my face as red as a tomato. The studio had helped me that day and all I could repay them with was a sad 45 cents? That wouldn’t have even paid for my share of toilet paper had I used the washroom.
On Friday the studio announced it would be moving to a traditional payment format which I think is a great move. For one, it will save the panic of searching for physical money and the sadness of coming up short (aka my dignity), on top of ensure the studio is in good financial shape to keep doing what it does. I haven’t been in a couple months because I’ve been super fortunate to have a new friend who invites me to an abundance of wonderful free yoga classes, but it is so nice knowing that studio 330 will be there for me when I need it again. I want to express my gratitude, more seriously, for the classes I have taken part in there. I find that yoga is my go-to when my head isn’t in a good place, and I’m working on making it more of a go-to to keep my head in a happy place all the time.
Since when does bowling count as cardio? I’ve never before broken a sweat on the lanes. Not until this weekend, that is. Joey and I are avid bowlers. Blame it on our student budgets, blame it on my genetics (Bri was on the Youth Bowling Council in South Mountain, circa 1978), we just plain love it and let me tell ya, it isn’t for the smell of those old stinky shoes or the nails I’ve broken throwing 10-pin balls. Bowling is a fun activity that most people forget about once they’re out of the birthday party stage of their life. It’s cheap, easy (even if you suck you can still do it), and good old fashioned fun.
I had this very same conversation with Janice recently. Janice was an advisor of mine in my years as a manager in student government. She’s the friendliest lady you ever did meet and could strike up an hour long conversation over just about anything. She’s the wild kind of gal who keeps vines growing in wine glasses in the window sill of her office. I popped by her office for a visit the other day and the conversation was rolling. Don’t ask me how it started but we got to talking about bowling, shooting pool, and darts. “Stick to those blue collar sports! You meet the nicest people,” she laughed. But it really struck me. It’s true! Sports like pool, bowling, and darts are those intramural-type games that anyone can do and with a little practice, can become a master. People who play them are generally looking for a social outing, maybe even a beer, and a little friendly competition. The stakes are low but the reward is high!
Like I said, Joey and I love bowling. We sometimes go twice in one weekend. On Friday night we paid for an hour of bowling. Typically we just do the shoe rental and two games. This costs us somewhere in the ballpark of $25 and is good for a couple hours of entertainment. This weekend, though, we opted to do the unlimited hour for $30 (in the name of birthday celebrations). This gave us as many games as we could squeeze into 60 minutes.
5 full games later and I was sweating up a storm. Granted we’re both extreme when it comes to useless competition, five games of bowling in 1 hour is a LOT. It was achieved with minimal conversation, zero dilly dallying, and literally running up to the line while the machine cleared the lane of fallen pins. We were getting our money’s worth!
I had found the perfect ball and I have it to thank for the fact that I cleared the lane more often than not. My aim couldn’t be shaken! Kare is so proud to have not only married a blue collar sportsman but to have produced a bowling prodigy.
In the name of “giving presence” Joey and I are considering buying eachother bowling shoes for Christmas so if anyone has any leads on where to buy a couple slick pairs we’d be stoked. Not only will they save our feet from future unknown fungi, but maybe it will encourage us to hit the lanes even more often than we do. At the risk of sounding like a retired couple attending afternoon seniors bowling leagues, I will leave it at that.
Whether you're 23 , 43, 63, or 83... bowling is a fun way to get moving. Whether or not you break a sweat is up to you! There's nothing wrong with using it as an excuse to get together with friends, have a couple drinks, and jam to some old school tunes.