Pumpkin spice baked oatmeal cups

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged.

Over the last eight months, my entire life has changed. I won’t get into the details here, but my personal writing has definitely taken a beating. I’m trying hard to get back into the groove, and will start with one of the things I do best… re-posting recipes.

This recipe is from one of my favourite websites, Organize Yourself Skinny. It’s gluten free, dairy free and awesome. It’s also filling and healthy.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats (I used certified gluten free)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl combine rolled oats, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix together until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed among the oats.
  3. In another large bowl whisk together eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.
  4. Add pumpkin, coconut oil, and coconut milk. Whisk together until blended.
  5. Stir in dried cranberries and let sit for about 1-2 minutes.
  6. Pour wet mixture and pecans into dry mixture. Stir until all the oats are coated with the pumpkin mixture.
  7. Divide baked oatmeal mixture among a 12-cup muffin pan.
  8. Bake 25 -27 minutes. Let sit for about 3-5 minutes.

Calories per cup: 231 (ish)

 

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Winnipeg. Winter. No worries.

Christmas is over. News Year’s Eve has come and gone. The knowledge that we have a few seriously long, cold, dark months ahead of us is looming in the back of your mind like a bad dream you can’t quite recall…

It’s January. You’re cold, you’re cranky and no one wants to go out. It happens to all of us.

This year, I’m going to get my butt out of my house every weekend. I’m going to do things. Lots of things. And because “things” can get pricey – especially when you’re levelling out from present-buying over the holidays – I’m going to aim for a mix of free and paid activities.

If you’re like me, and already planning ahead in an effort to fight the winter slump, my list of activities below might help. We can do this, Winnipeg.

Assiniboine Park Conservatory – Free, beautiful, indoors. What else do you need?

Enigma Escape – For $25 a person, you can be locked in a room with a group of friends and forced to test how smart you aren’t are.

Thermea Spa – A day pass at this gorgeous spa is under $50 and includes use of all hot tubs, saunas and relaxation areas.

Festival du Voyageur – I’ve never been to Festival, which makes me a horrible Manitoban. Maybe 2016 will be the year? A day pass is $18, which really isn’t bad. You apparently have to buy some weird food, though, and drink beer out of an ice cup. So, there’s that too…

Club Regent – If you just want somewhere cool to wander for the evening, this is a great option.

Red River Skating Trail – Here’s another awesome free one. Our river trail is one of the best in North America. You don’t even need skates. Just wander along the path and check out the warming huts along the way.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights – For $15, the CMHR is a must do this winter. The exhibits are wonderful, and the building itself is simply stunning. Do. It.

Adrenaline Adventures – Winter = tubing season. If you haven’t given this a try yet, you should. It’s reasonably priced too. For $10 you can tube for an hour, but for $20 you can go all day.

Sky Zone – This is another one on my list that I haven’t had time to check out yet. For $12, you can jump your heart out on a series of trampolines for 30 minutes. And trust me – for us adults who aren’t used to this type of physical activity, 30 minutes is good for your first time.

(FYI, it’s $17 for an hour. So if you think you’re a trampoline ninja, you can go for that option.)

Golf Dome – I don’t golf, but what the hell? I think it’s $15-ish for a half hour at the driving range, and they seem to have an “all you can hit” policy. Which in my case would be nothing.

Speedworld – An indoor go-kart racetrack sounds extremely dangerous to me. So, let’s do it.

Hermetic Code Tour @ the MB Legislative Building – The 2016 tours don’t begin until the end of April 2016, but this one deserves an honourable mention. For $40 a person, you get a guided tour of the Leg. If you’re a history nerd like me, this is exciting.

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Where to publish?

Over the past few months, I’ve been busy working away on a number of short stories. Some of them are just for me, or this blog. Others, I’d like to see published.

It can always be tricky to figure out which literary journals in Canada are the right fit for your work. Last week, I stumbled upon this list on the blog of the National Magazine Awards Foundation. It outlines a ton of journals, magazines and other publications, what they’re looking for and how to submit.

For aspiring freelance writers like me, this is a great resource. I hope you find it helpful (I know I did!).

Happy writing!
A

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Piercings, tattoos & me…

I’ve always loved the concept of body modification.

Not to be rebellious, or make a statement or anything like that. For me, getting a new piercing or tattoo is an intensely personal process – and one that I don’t take lightly, or rush into. It’s a way to express myself, highlight a life experience or pay tribute to someone important.

I started piercing my ears when I was a teenager, and I’ll admit that in the beginning I wanted to do it to look “badass.” That was my rationale for the first four or five, but after that the process became more meaningful.

By the time I was getting more involved piercings – which I define as anything that should be done with a needle and has a healing time of longer than a week – I’d think long and hard before making the appointment. I’d also consider who I wanted to bring with me, because having a good wingman is very important.

In case you’re curious… two of my current earrings signify major accomplishments; another a horrible tragedy where heading to the nearest tattoo parlour and asking for a hole in my head seemed the only appropriate response. That one hurt the most, but I wear it as a reminder that all pain – whether physical or emotional – is temporary.

The decision to get my first tattoo was one that took me about a year to arrive on. Then, it took three months to commit to the design, and a final year before I picked a date and scheduled it. I wanted to be sure I’d love it forever, and have no regrets…

… and I don’t. The turtle sits proudly on my left ankle, and signifies family, adventure and my passion for travel. I’ve had it for six years and love it more every time I look at it.

The idea for my most recent tattoo started to take shape about a year ago, but it really became a solid concept after I travelled to Hawaii with mom this past March. I’ve gushed a lot about that trip – on this blog and elsewhere – so I’ll gloss over the finer points of our week in paradise and just say that Hawaii has always been a special place for our whole family.

Spending that time with my mom made me realize I wanted something permanent to remind me of her, along with my father and brother.

The hibiscus flower is self-explanatory. Not only are they beautiful, they’re everywhere in Hawaii and represent delicate beauty or old royalty depending on who you ask. The light blue is actually aquamarine, and represents March – the birthstone for both my parents. The light purple behind it is amethyst, which is February for my brother. And “Hope” ties us all together.

It was very important to me to have the word “Hope” written in my mom’s handwriting – and the tattoo artist captured it beautifully. Equally important was the placement. I’m a writer, and couldn’t think of a better spot to honour my family than my right wrist.

The significance of my new tattoo is already evolving and becoming more meaningful each day. There’s truly nothing better than having hope – whether you’re hopeful for a new job, a specific life experience or finding a long lost love again after a decade apart. Having hope gives life meaning, and the tattoo on my arm is a constant reminder of that.

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Conquering 13.1

Last month, I ran my first half marathon.

To many conditioned runners, the half is merely a stepping stone on the way to full or ultra races. For me, it was a unicorn of sorts… a fabled, unattainable thing that others could achieve but was just out of my reach.

Well, not anymore. I did it.

As a writer, I’m used to finding the right words to describe situations, events and places. But honestly, there aren’t enough words in the English language to describe how crossing that finish line felt. Amazing is close. Elated is up there too. It was just the most… energizing, empowering and exhilarating… experience of my life.

I trained my ass off. A lot of people are modest about their preparation, and I can understand that. You don’t want to look like a show off, and non-runners really don’t care that you got up at 7 a.m. on a rainy Sunday morning to “sneak in” your long run for the week (yes, I did this). I can’t downplay how hard I worked, though, so really… I trained my ass off.

The best part of race day was waking up and knowing I’d be running all 13.1 miles with my friend Leigh. She’s been my inspiration for years, and one of the reasons I started running in the first place. Leigh has crushed the Manitoba Half Marathon numerous times, so she was already familiar with the route and knew what to expect along the way.

Running with a friend also meant that we’d have two hours to talk, distract each other from fatigue and discuss the interesting – and often hilarious – race day wardrobe choices of others.

I was tired by the end, and at the mile 12 marker I really thought I wasn’t going to make it. But then we entered the stadium, and I heard the announcer saying my name and bib number over the loudspeaker. Adrenaline kicked in and Leigh and I sprinted, hand-in-hand, to the finish. We crossed together, received our medals and gave each other a well-deserved high five.

That was truly the best high five I’ve ever received.

I did learn a few important things from this experience. So, if there are any half marathon hopefuls reading this, here’s what you need to know…

  • Run with a friend, if you can. Especially as a newbie. It helps.
  • Strategically place family and friends along the route. Figure out ahead of time where they are going to be, so you know to look for them.
  • Don’t change anything the day of the race. Eat what you usually eat before a long training run, and stick to whatever you’ve been using to fuel yourself as you’re running.
  • DO NOT hit up the beer station if you haven’t tried drinking alcohol while running before. I’m not going to lie… my arm was reaching toward the most beautiful, cold, refreshing cup of beer I’ve ever seen as we ran by. It was a reflex. I couldn’t control it. I wanted it, but I resisted because I had no idea how that would impact the rest of my race. Next time, though…
  • Train. This goes without saying, but training makes a huge difference. Train hard, train long and don’t skip those long runs.
  • Don’t be a hero. If you’re tired, walk for a bit. If something hurts, stop and figure out what it is. No one wants to crawl to the finish line, so listen to your body.

So, what’s next? Another one, of course. On October 18 I’ll be running the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service Half Marathon. I’ve already started training, and I can’t wait.

MB marathon 2015

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#TBT

Next weekend is my birthday. Every year, I use it as an excuse to get my friends together at one of my favourite places – our family cottage.

It’s Thursday today, so I thought it appropriate to share a throwback photo from our cottage taken a few years ago. That’s my husband on the pier.

This photo was taken the summer before our wedding, when our lives were completely turned upside down. We were between homes, and living with my parents while renovating our new place. My father-in-law had just passed away, and we were grieving. And finally, we were looking forward and contemplating what our married life together would look like.

There was a lot on my mind as I snapped this photo. But as I look back on it, I’m also reminded of how I felt in that moment. Completely grateful. For my husband, and his love for me. For the beautiful sunset, the water and the fresh air. I was grateful for the future too, and for the promise it held.

Three years later, I’m still grateful for this moment. When I stand on the pier at the cottage next weekend, I hope to experience something similar. It won’t be the same – as life is much different now – but it will be special and perfect in its own way.

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Hello, Instagram

For the last five years, I’ve been active on Twitter and this blog. Before that, I was dedicated to Facebook. Social media has been around for quite a while now, and those were my go-to places to get news about friends, share memories and jot down my thoughts about life.

Over the last few months, I’ve discovered Instagram. Initially, I refused to sign up because I felt there were already too many social media platforms in my day-to-day life. I couldn’t comprehend adding one more. Then, my husband bought a new Cannon camera for school and everything changed.

There’s something truly magical about wandering around a park, a green space or even down the street and snapping photos of what you discover. We’ve purchased a few different lenses, so we can take wide shots of whole scenes or zoom in on something specific. We’ve also been enjoying the time spent together and have rediscovered just how beautiful our city is.

It made sense that I found a special place to share these new photos. That place is Instagram. I’m still learning how to use the camera, and am nowhere close to my husband’s skill level. But I’m a quick learner.

Follow me on Instagram (@Ama_Schultz Instagram), if you’d like to see more. Enjoy!

IMG_2641Beautiful tulips. It’s sad they only last for a short time in spring.

IMG_2677The night sky gearing up for an intense sunset.

IMG_2652Lilacs. Need I say more?

IMG_2709A park we’d never explored before. It’s amazing what you can find
when you’re not really searching for anything..

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