YYCEats

Don’t get me wrong, friends. I like a glass of wine just as much as the next totally independent and productive grown woman. (Side comment: I’m trying not to say “girl” as much these days. I’ve been trying for like a year though, so you can imagine how well it’s going.) I like to learn about wine. I like the ritual of selecting a bottle from my bar. I like having a special drink at the end of the day. But my pocketbook, internal organs and cognitive functions are not always there for a wine. And that is where this post comes in – the best mocktail for this holiday season!

And by “holiday season”, I mean “zooming with friends from our own homes while wearing fancy clothes”. Yet another reason to maybe not always reach for the wine.

Moving on. This is a mocktail that I have been obsessed with for almost three years now. It is super easy to make and ingredients go a long way for very little cost. I am so excited to introduce to you – the humble, delicious Shrub.

The Best Mocktail - Shrub Ingredients

A shrub? Like a small tree?

Clearly, I don’t mean a small tree. I’m talking about a drink, not a plant.

Okay, but I need more details. Because it sounds like a small tree.

Fair enough. If you google “shrub”, you’re going to find out that shrub is a synonym to bush. Touche, google.

If you google “shrub drink“, you will come across lots of versions of the drink with spirits included. You’ll also come across lots of variations that look really complicated.

But truly, all you need are two ingredients:

  • Sparkling water (I make mine with my Sodastream – not sponsored, just great)
  • Fruit flavoured white balsamic vinegar
  • Optional: Ice. Fruit for garnish. Maybe go really fancy and add some fancy flavoured bitters? There are no rules!
  • Double optional: Pretty glassware. Make it fun!

There is no recipe. Fill a glass with sparkling water (plain or a flavour you like) and top it off with a splash of the white balsamic. Add a little to start, give it and stir and a taste, add more if you like. Throw in your favourite cocktail add-ins. Part of what makes this mocktail the best is the fact that it is endless customizable.

The Best Mocktail - The Shrub

I’m in! Where do I find white balsamic?

Great question! I typically pick it up from a specialty oil and vinegar store.

In Calgary: I recommend Soffritto, specifically their location at the Calgary Farmer’s Market. (Mostly because that location is 7 minutes from my house). You can also order online through their website or through the newly launched Best of Calgary Foods.

In the Kootenays: It’s worth it to take a trip to Kimberley to visit OU Tasting House. I need to give them kudos for introducing me to The Shrub!

Otherwise, any upscale grocery store (or non-upscale grocery store) that has an extensive olive oil selection is likely to have a white vinegar appropriate for drinking.

And that is The Shrub, the best mocktail I’ve ever made. Like wine, it is a little bit sweet, a little bit savoury. Unlike wine, it’s hydrating and non-alcoholic! Give it a try and let me know how you like it in the comments!

Fitness

elevate barre program nutrition guide

Oof. Look at this girl go – restarting a blog and missing a week almost immediately. What can I say? I had a paper due last week. After doing a deep dive into reflexivity and the need for a community developed code of ethics for adult educators, my brain was toast. 3500 words is so many words. But anyway, I digress. I was gone, now I am back, and I want to talk about Elevate, a little program that I’ve been doing at my barre studio for the past month.

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Stuff About Me

Ugh. Really? That’s the title I’m picking for this post? “I’m Back, BAY-BEE”? I mean, I am back, this is a wildly accurate statement, but yikes on bikes! (Yikes on Bikes is also not a great thing for me to write… this is all starting to make me sound like I’m a mom who is not at all cool but thinks they are cool. Sorry, non-existent children.)

Okay, let’s start again.

I’m Back, Blogging Again!

(Using commas wildly since 1986.)

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Stuff About Me

Erin laying on a bed, engaged in reflection

On this day, this day just following one of the most reflective and challenging Yin yoga classes I’ve ever taken, and the last day of 2018, indulge me in a little bit of reflection. Let’s talk about how this year has gone by so quickly, as years seem to the older I get, but also how this single year feels like it has taken ten years to pass. Last January feels like eons ago.

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Fitness

In a shocking turn of events, I’m delayed writing up my Week Two Recap and it’s already Wed, Oct 31. Halloween! I’m a deer! (If I get a cute picture and not just a poorly lit picture in my office, I’ll post it on the A Flimsy Plan insta.) With this spoooooky season coming to a close, let’s hit up another recap of my Fit Girls journey! (Syntax? What’s syntax? I’m not fixing that sentence!)

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Culture


(“Two Gentlemen of Verona” Poster Image, as always, lovingly stolen from Theatre Calgary. Their site is always adding more incredible, informative material about their shows, please take the time to explore it.)

First off: I probably should have written about this show a month again. Actually, if I were really good at my job, I would have seen the show early in it’s run and written an actual review to actually encourage my readers to go see it. But long-time readers know that’s not what I’m here for. I’m here for ruminating on things for far too long and then vomiting my thoughts about important theatre onto this blog. And today? The #importanttheatre that I’m talking about is #ShakesBow‘s production of Two Gentlemen of Verona.

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Life

No Spend Week One
Week One

It’s recap time! Because we’re one week into No Spend April already. WOO! Week One! (Also, I totally didn’t take pictures of my meal prep this week. Hopefully that’s not actually something you want.)

The Spends

Blah blah blah, mortgage, cell phone, condo fees property tax… who cares? Let’s get down to the things I can control!

1. My gas gamble didn’t work – gas went up by four cents and I had to fill up this weekend. Meh.
2. Groceries only cost $19 this week! I have a rice and bean recipe that I am obsessed with and my pantry was already stocked with carrots, peas, onion and rice so I mostly just made a huge batch of that and then supplemented with some burrito bowl fixings. Delicious.
3. … I went to the Make It Market with my mom on Saturday and spent $40.

You Spent $40!?

Calm down, internet. I spent $40 and I don’t feel bad about it. I bought a one-of-a-kind art piece, created by a local artisan. For about six months, I’ve been trying to put together a wall in my kitchen – it currently has a chalkboard and a canvas print on it and I really want to hang up a corkboard that I already have for organizational purposes. However, this wall needs a something else to help balance the proportions… and I finally found something! After months of looking! I can finally not have my corkboard just leaning up against my wall in my kitchen.

I feel fine with this purchase because it was conscious and mindful. In months of looking, I hadn’t found anything I liked and I spent a ton of time weighing out the purchase before making it while at the Market. (I also didn’t buy any craft distilled liquors or tiny rings like I vaguely wanted to, so… winning.)

The No Spends

I know, that’s not an actual phrase, but I’m using it.

One of my biggest expenses is eating out. Part of it is that I love trying out new restaurants, with or without other people, but another part of it is just habit. I used to travel for work and I got super used to sitting at the bar in a restaurant with a book and a glass of wine to unwind. I got super used to grabbing a Chopped Leaf bowl on my way home from the gym because it was quick and healthy, and I was starving. Like I wrote about the tuna melt last week, a lot of what I did was just so easy and relatively inexpensive… but easy and inexpensive adds up, yo!

Right now, I think I’m still riding on the high of being oh so virtuous. It feels good to clear out my pantry and to go home to eat the meals I prepped. (Note: Old!Erin would totally have prepped meals and still gone out to eat anyway… that’s why it’s nice to have the “challenge” element to lean on.)

The Yoga

Oh my gosh, you guys, I am loving the Yoga With Adriene TRUE challenge. It reminds me a bit of being back in university and getting in touch with all the elements of myself – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. I will note: I don’t recommend this challenge if you just want to “work out”. Though there are definitely some challenging physical elements, this is really about developing a yoga practice and figuring out what it means to you.

I did miss a day of the challenge – on Friday, I spent the night at my parents’ house, having a railway night (long story), and then I spent a day out with my mom on Saturday, going straight to my Saturday night plans. I had thought I’d be home by 10 pm or so, then being able to unwind with a little yoga, but that was not to be. In an amazing moment of kismet, Adriene actually spoke about how we have to develop our own practice, how it make take some of us longer than 30 days to complete the challenge and how we have to celebrate ourselves… during the session I wasn’t able to complete on Saturday and ended up doing on Sunday night. How perfect!

Life

No-Spend

Well, my friends, I’m two days into No Spend April and I haven’t goofed it up. Yet. (I would really hope that I wouldn’t mess up in two days, but… you know. If I hadn’t publicly announced to the entire world that I was doing a No Spend Month, I probably definitely would have popped on over to the original Sunterra after my Lagree class on Monday to grab one of their tuna melt paninis. Only $6.99! Such a good deal! Those things are like crack.)

Okay, but let’s talk about the fact that if I get a tuna panini every week, that’s $28 a month and that is basically my entire grocery budget for a week.

Also, I’m definitely almost out of eyeshadow primer and am going to be rocking a real shimmery eye for most of the month because I do still have a bunch of the Sin Urban Decay Primer Potion left. And I should use that stuff.

Spend

Anyway, thus far I immediately had to get gas on the first – only $25 worth because I was convince the price of gas was going to go down and I could get a marginally better deal later in the week. (Sidenote: I was correct. It went down by about two cents. I could probably save a full $2!)

No Spend Groceries
No Spend April – Week One Groceries

I also technically picked up my groceries for the week on March 31, because I was out running errands with my mom and she had to go to Superstore anyway. Full disclosure: I spent $34. It was all the nutritional yeast and the cashews’ fault!

But the yeast will last for longer than the entire month and the cashews are both delicious for snacks and earned me 1200 Optimum points towards free groceries. And $34 is pretty close to $30, so I’m not going to complain.

I live by meal prep so I made peanut butter and berry oats for breakfast the week (you can see the berries above, though I did mix them with the dregs of a few packs that were just languishing in the freezer) and chicken stirfry bowls for lunch for the week (all I had to pick up for that was the spinach and frozen veg – I had herbed chicken, basmati rice and all the sauces kicking around all ready).

Dinner is chaos, I’ve discovered I’m obsessed with the new Green Giant cauliflower tots, they’re all I want to eat ever anymore and I’m sure they’re secretly terrible for me so please don’t destroy my dreams. Also, I will be so sad when the package that I weirdly hoarded in my freezer for no reason at all runs out, because those things are expensive if they’re not on sale. And I’d try to make my own, but cauliflower is expensive too, yo.

An Incredibly Important Question

Do you guys want to see pictures of my meal prep? Is that a thing people like?

Culture

Vertigo Theatre - Wait Until Dark poster

(As always, poster image stolen directly from the Vertigo website. The volunteer ushers were super engaged last night and warning people about using their cameras in the theatre. And then I knocked my program onto the floor and it was almost gone forever – like, literally, a man almost stole it from the floor until my mom swiftly said “oohhh, thank you so much for picking that up, she knocked it on the floor!” so he stole someone else’s instead – and that was just way too much program-ness.)

Guys, I’m having all the anxiety about not blogging. The problem is, lately I haven’t really been doing anything new and fun. I pretty much exclusively go to Cibo or Earls during Happy Hour if I’m going to read a book and drink wine. I go to barre or yoga classes (I’m actually doing a challenge at Junction 9 right now and it’s taking up a lot of my time). I write a play with my friends. It’s a busy and fun life that I have, but it’s pretty repetitive.

So, I’ll work on changing that up for you, dear readers. And in the mean time? I have a play review!

Last night, I hit up the Opening Night of Vertigo Theatre’s Wait Until Dark. Those of you who have read my blog before will know that I can be a bit bratty when it comes to dealing with bozos, so you can probably guess that I love opening nights. Minimal bozos, just lots of members of the theatre community and theatre enthusiasts! (Also, there is usually food after the show. Last night I got to eat a soft pretzel and a shooter glass of Village Ice Cream’s Salted Caramel ice cream. It was awesome.)

I’ll start by being honest and admitting that I always get I’ll Be Back Before MidnightWait Until Dark and Gaslight confused. Which is actually kind of nice, because even though I’ve seen all these plays before, I never remember which plot elements belong to which show and it’s always like seeing a whole new show. Woo hoo! For the record, Wait Until Dark was adapted into a movie starring Audrey Hepburn and involves a blind girl and the criminals who try to take advantage of her after luring her husband out of their shared apartment.

I feel like my description of the show is super creepy – and the show is super creepy, in an environment-setting, suspense-building, slow burn kind of way. The play was written fifty years ago but it really does feel like a modern thriller. So, I think I’ve alluded to the fact that this play is produced fairly often and that begs the question – why see this production?

1) This is a new adaptation! So cool! I actually didn’t realize this until I was reading the program last night – because my reading comprehension is good, I guess? And I didn’t notice the words “adapted by” in anything I read earlier? Anyway, Jeffrey Hatcher wrote this adaptation, transferring the era from the 60s to 1944 and adding a few other twists and turns along the way. Pretty cool for any viewers who feel like they aren’t interested in seeing a story they’ve already seen – and the era change absolutely works. Admittedly, I get this plot confused with other plays so I may not be representative of a truly educated viewer, but for myself, at least, I wouldn’t have thought that the show didn’t originally take place in the 40s if I hadn’t read it.

2) This is the most Calgary show that ever Calgaried and it makes me so happy. Simon Mallet did his MFA at U of C right around the time that I did my BFA and he has put together a team of Calgary-based talent – people I know and love, including one of my former campers from the Pumphouse DDC in her professional theatre debut! I’m just so proud of this entire team and it warms my heart. (Yes, I’m even proud of the people I only know because I’ve seen them in lots of shows. Shut up. I feel like I know them. It counts.)

… I’m sorry I told you to shut up.

3) Anna Cummer is so wonderful as Susan. She really has to carry the show and she’s so sassy and spunky and wonderful. I spent the entire show rooting for her and knowing she could put it together and save herself… even when she wasn’t quite there yet. I can see how there might be a tendency to play this role as overly weak or tragic but it doesn’t go there at all. She is such a wonderful heroine.

It’s a strong showing from Vertigo Theatre. The show runs until February 19th and tickets can be purchased by visiting their website or calling (403) 221 3708. Do it, yo!