The Worlds Best Ribs Recipe

I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but I can’t. This came from Man Fuel Food Blog after a long and tiresome search for the best rib recipe ever. I’ve tried a lot of different recipes but none fit what I wanted – juicy, flavorful, fall-off-the-bone ribs. Most I tried were too dry or didn’t have enough flavor. I tried this recipe two years ago and couldn’t believe how amazing it was. To this day, J says they are “the best ribs I’ve ever eaten. Ever”. Honestly, I want to enter these in a rib fest competition – I’m positive they would win. Okay, my mouth is watering now and I’m dreaming of ribs.

What you need:

1 full rack of bone-in baby back ribs
2 tbsp of onion powder
2 tbsp of garlic powder
4 tbsp of brown sugar
2 tbsp of oil
1 tsp of cumin
1 tsp of salt
2 tsp of chili powder
2 tsp of smoked paprika
¼ tsp of black pepper
Your favorite BBQ sauce

What you do:

1. Start by cutting your ribs in half – it’s easier to rub them down and cook them later. Plus, the meat falls off the bones so it’s hard to divide post-oven.


2. This is optional – removing the silverskin on the bottom of the ribs. It’s connective tissue on the underside of the ribs and if you remove it, the ribs turn out a bit better. However, I’ve never done this on mine and they’re always perfect.

3. In a separate both you’ll make the dry rub – combine onion powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, pepper and chili powder.

4. Add the oil to the dry rub and mix really well with a spoon.

5. Apply the rub all over the top and bottom of the ribs.

6. Put the ribs in a large Ziploc bag and let them marinate at room temperature for 1 hour. You can marinate them overnight, just make sure they’re room temperature before they cook

7. Now preheat your oven to 250-260°F

8. Wrap each set of ribs in a piece of tinfoil, creating a pouch and sealing off all sides (this traps the flavor and steam in, making them juicy and delicious.

9. Put them on a baking sheet and cook them on the middle rack for 4 hours.

10. After 4 hours, take them out of the oven and carefully drain the liquid from the pouch (I do this by cutting a corner in the foil, tipping the pouch and letting it pour out.

11. Once the liquid is gone, open up the foil package and let the ribs breathe. They’ll look a bit dry or funny, but don’t worry – that’s supposed to happen.

12. Put your sauce on them and then throw them under the broiler for 3-4 minutes – watch them closely though because they could quickly become burned or overdone

These ribs are best eaten by two people – since they’re already cut into two parts and dividing them is near impossible with the meat literally sliding off the bones onto your plate. I love to serve them with garlic mashed potatoes and even use the drippings from the pouch to make a gravy or sauce.

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REAL Toronto Money Hacks

This article popped up on my Facebook newsfeed the other day and it was written by Narcity and was titled along the lines of ‘Money Hacks for Living in Toronto’, which I thought was a super relevant and useful post. So, I clicked (click bait for real on this one) and skimmed through their ‘hacks’. To say I was disappointed would be a severe understatement. They had a few decent ones (few being maybe one), most were a stupid stretch, and the last one was absolutely ridiculous! Their final ‘hack’ for affordable living in Toronto was:

“Sign up for a TD Student Line of Credit”

ARE YOU JOKING ME?! ‘Hey guys, if you can’t afford to live in Toronto, just get a line of credit to help’. I cannot even BEGIN to explain why this is a terrible idea. If you’ve read my post on my debt story, you’ll know why this is TERRIBLE advice on Narcity’s part. I’m sure most people with some financial sense would know this is a bad idea but hey, I was uneducated with money at one point and would have definitely signed up for a line of credit. I think the worst part is that people know it’s a bad idea but do it anyways. So, I’m rounding up my Toronto Money Hacks. I promise you, none of them include going into debt to afford to live in Toronto.

Get a Roommate

Guys, I know it feels super lame to have a roommate but it is easily the best way to save money living in Toronto. You can split utilities and rent in half, plus you always have someone to hang out with. If you’re worried about someone getting in your way, find a roommate that runs on opposite schedules. The most important things I looked for was lifestyle match (if they partied a lot or always had friends over, we wouldn’t work well together) and cleanliness (who cares if their room is messy – as long as common areas are clean, I was ok). I also have found living with strangers is actually less stressful than friends. Yes, you have to screen more carefully and you could get a ‘bad one’ but there’s also no added pressure of ruining a friendship. If you guys don’t have similar interests, you can be like two ships passing in the night with no worries. If you live with a friend and it doesn’t work out, it can be downright awkward.

Ditch the Goodlife Membership

If your condo has a gym, use it! Don’t pay for that pricy Goodlife or Equinox membership when you have one you can use for free. If you aren’t blessed with a free gym, Toronto has lots of community centre gyms you can buy passes for that are a fraction of the cost of Goodlife. If you like classes but aren’t down with paying $20 a class, try ClassPass – which lets you try different classes in the city on a monthly fee that’s cheaper than joining all of the different gyms. I also used to do “new member” trial passes for two weeks just to get in some classes then would bounce to a new gym. There’s also a TON of fitness gurus on Instagram that post free workouts and a lot can be modified to be done at home with little equipment. Fit can be free, guys.

Ditch the ‘Big Box’ Grocery Stores

One of the best discoveries I had when J and I moved to our new neighbourhood was that there were some little ‘bodegas’ around that sold produce way cheaper than Sobeys and Grocery Gateway! It’s a bit more annoying to separate your grocery trips to two or three different stores (especially when you don’t drive!) but you can save a lot of money this way. I bought $15 worth of produce at our corner market, which would have been $35 at Sobeys! The quality is also much better, since I find they get stock more frequently. We use Grocery Gateway to deliver bulk items twice a month (which is cheaper than renting a Car2Go or a taxi) and I try to get the stuff we use a lot on sale (cat food, paper towel, toilet paper, etc.) and stock up when it is.

Instead of Taxis or Ubers, Use Car Sharing Programs

I use Car2Go, which is a car sharing program in Toronto. It’s super convenient – you can park in any approved legal spot (and even if you get a ticket, Car2Go pays for it), you can drop it off when you’re done using it (no returning to its pickup spot) and gas and insurance is all covered. The cars are rated per minute, so it starts at $.41/minute up to $.47/minute depending on the car you get (they have Smart Cars and Mercedes-Benz GLA/CLAs) and then rates change for the hour and for the day. If you need to jet home from the grocery store or are running out for a quick errand, often times it’s cheaper to do car share then taking a taxi!

Follow The Drink Specials

One of the best parts of being in the city is that there is always somewhere to go! This can get pricey though. So, whenever I’d get together with my girlfriend Emma (we were both always on a budget) we’d search for the best drink specials that night. There are drink specials every night at multiple bars so don’t feel like you need to hit up the most expensive place to get the best experience. Some of the best hidden gems also have great drink and food specials!

Book Review – ‘Maestra’ by L.S. Hilton

Okay, so I didn’t read ’50 Shades of Grey’ but there was a lot of talk and hype around the, shall we say, erotic nature of some of the scenes in the book. Well, ‘Maestra’ is definitely in the same category, which I didn’t know when I picked it up (hahaha, picture yourself reading this book on the subway while you head into the office and then BAM – graphic sex scene. What a way to start a Monday).

With that being said, I really liked this book. It seemed mildly unrealistic at times but also had me a bit jealous of the main character, Judith Rashleigh, of her ability to con others and live the life of luxury. It follows her life from working in a boring art house to serving at an exclusive nightclub, the people she meets, the places she goes, and the drama she brings with her. She finds herself on a free trip to Paris, potentially involved in a murder mystery, running from the law through the Italian countryside … living on a yacht, scheming for millions – all in a few hundred pages! It’s hard to write a lot without giving much away, so I guess this is kind of a bad book review, huh? Look – if you like the following aspects to a novel, you’d like this one:

Femme Fatale
Thriller
Page Turner

The sequel to this book, the first in a trilogy, came out April 2017 so you know it’s on my list of books to buy!

Facial Favourites

I am one of those people who have combination skin on my face and I’m not really sure if that’s a blessing or a curse! My skin gets really dry in patches (especially during the winter) around my chin, nose, and forehead but then my t-zone can get really oily during the day and I can break out with pimples if I’m not careful. I don’t have a specific skincare regimen but I do have some skincare favourites for my face that I’ve found really helpful in different situations, depending on what I’m experiencing. This is really a mish-mash of products, so I hope you find one that works for you!

Fresh – Soy Face Cleanser
Best For: Daily cleansing

I recently got eyelash extensions again (LOL if you’ve read my post from last summer about why I wouldn’t get them ever again) but I’m enjoying them a lot more this time! I’ve been taking better care of them and am more knowledgeable about how to make them last longer and so far, so good. I also tried out a new esthetician, which helped as well. OKAY. So, Fresh’s Soy Face Cleanser is my ride or die when it comes to cleaning my face and lashes. This is a “do-it-all” cleanser that seems to work with any skin type, so, no discrimination here. It removes makeup and dirt and leaves your skin feeling soft and fresh. I love it because I use it to clean my eyes and ‘scrub’ my lashes. I also love the fresh cucumber scent. It doesn’t get really sudsy either, so it’s easy to wash off.

Foreo – LUNA
Best For: Deep, gentle cleansing

The hype on this LUNA is well worth it! I ended up buying this over the Clarisonic for a few reasons, but mainly I liked how small and portable it was and I liked that there were no brushes or pads to be replaced. I have the LUNA Mini and it has a few different speed options and two different scrubber bristles (on the front and back). I find it really does give me that deep clean and when I pair it with the Fresh cleanser or Philosophy’s Purity, I am able to really scrub my skin without it feeling raw and I also find it helps clear up dry spots and breakouts when partnered with the right cleanser.

LUSH – Oatifix
Best For: Softening skin

Every few days I like to treat my skin with a fresh face mask and lately I’ve been loving the ones from LUSH (of course). Oatifix does a great job when my skin is extra dry or irritated and helps fluff away the dead skin. It has banana, almonds, and oats to help scrub in the most gentle way possible and is finished off with vanilla so it legit smells like cookies (YUMMY).

LUSH – The Sacred Truth
Best For: Brightening up your skin

*praise hands emoji* for this bad boy. FOR REAL. This mask makes my dry and dull skin feel bright and soft! It has papaya to help with the dryness and wheatgrass to give a nutritious boost. There’s also yogurt, primrose oil, extra virgin coconut oil, and shea butter to help hydrate. This stuff is AMAZING. Go get it now – your skin will thank you later.

LUSH – Dream Cream
Best For: Hydrating your sensitive skin

I always finish off any skincare routine with LUSH’s Dream Cream (post shower, face wash, hand wash … anything)! It says it right in the name – it’s dreamy. It has oat milk, lavender, and chamomile and works to soothe sensitive skin. It is super effective at eliminating dry or chapped skin, even if your sensitive (I have eczema and I never have issues).

Tarte – Frxxxtion Stick 3-in-1 Exfoliating Cleanser
Best For: Exfoliating

This guy is small and mighty. It’s in a twist stick format so it’s easy to apply and use. It’s got charcoal in it (hi, all the rage right now!) and gritty pieces that feel like sand to help you eexfoliate You just rub it on your skin right from the stick and then scrub with your fingers and rinse away. This will leave your skin (almost literally) squeaky clean and shiny (in a good way – you just buffed away all your dead skin cells!). I picked this up in a travel pack with a mini scrub brush and 2nd cleanser and loved the combo of the three!

Quick Dinner – Szechuan Chicken

I’m going to let you in on a secret … If I’m going to be totally honest, I don’t really know what defines chicken as being ‘Szechuan’. To my understanding, it’s the sauce – but I’m no chef, nor do I pretend to be an expert! However, you don’t have to be to make this dish. It’s super easy and is my go-to for a quick meal after the gym. It’s savory and spicy, filling but not heavy, and full of great crunch and texture.

What you need:

2 chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
Rice noodles
½ cup of Szechuan sauce
2-3 tbsp of smooth peanut butter
Handful of sugar snap peas
Handful of bean sprouts

What you do:

1. Cook the chicken on medium high heat in a pan with a little bit of oil (about a ½ tbsp – I find if you use too much it splatters everywhere)

2. Once the chicken is cooked, turn down to a low heat and add the Szechuan sauce and stir until the chicken is covered

3. Once the chicken is covered in sauce, add in the peanut butter and simmer on low while you cook your rice noodles

4. Just before you serve it, crank the heat up to high and let the bottom of the chicken get a bit crispy (the sugar in the peanut butter and sauce makes this happen).

5. Throw on the sugar snap peas and bean sprouts and serve over the rice noodles – I like throwing them on just before I eat so they’re crunchy and cold

A few modifications to note: you can serve it over regular rice, I just prefer it with rice noodles. You can also add more sauce + peanut butter, depending on how spicy you like it (the more peanut butter, the less spicy it is)

This honestly takes 15 minutes to cook and is super easy – enjoy, friends!

 

Budgeting: The ‘20/30/50’ Method

Let me first preface this post by saying I am by no means a money expert. If you were to ask my closest friends and family a few years ago how I am with finances and budgeting, they would have laughed. But after a few years, lots of debt, money issues and living pay cheque to pay cheque, I’ve learned a lot about budgeting, money management, and saving. I’ve tried a few different ways of budgeting but this method seemed to work the best for me. I will also say that I’m really open about my money issues and what I’ve learned and gone through so if you have any questions feel free to comment below.

I used The ‘20/30/50’ Method to make a new budget this year and found it the easiest to work with and the most straightforward. Making a budget + tracking your spending can be very eye-opening if you’re diligent with it. It can show you where you’re overspending, where you might need to increase savings or income or where you might have extra money that’s unallocated. The budget I make is just for myself – J handles his money separately, which works for us – so all my numbers are for ‘my half’. You can download an editable copy of my ‘20/30/50’ budget and try it out for yourself!

Okay, so The ‘20/30/50’ Method has three categories and each number stands for a percentage of your total monthly income. So for example, 20 is 20% allocated to savings. The categories are:

50% – Must Have

Rent, utilities, car payments, #AdultThings that you need every month that no one really enjoys paying for – am I right? You’ll see in the template that among my must-haves I also budget for taxis and Car2Gos. Luckily my company reimburses me for the metro pass, so most of that budget gets used on taxis, Uber, and car shares. We live in midtown Toronto and don’t have car payments or parking but occasionally use a car share program or take taxis + Uber.

20% – Savings + Debt

This is fairly self-explanatory. I am on a debt repayment program so I like to allocate as much money to that every month as I can. However, J and I decided to start saving at least $100 from every pay cheque. I’m more confident in my spending habits and was able to move some money around to do so. Sometimes if I’m having a good month I’ll even put more than $100 in after all my debt + must haves are taken care of. Debt repayment is always going to be a top priority for me but it’s good to save. I also put money into an RRSP at work, which comes out every pay cheque and I don’t even notice. I would recommend doing that with your company as well, especially if they do partial or full match contributions. I promise you won’t even notice it’s ‘gone’.

30% – Everything Else

Anything that doesn’t fall into the above two categories, don’t forget bank fees!

This is always the first area that I look at to cut down on spending. For example, I switched from TD to PC Financial because I was tired of spending on bank fees. PC is a great option for ‘free banking’. If switching isn’t an option, look into how much you get charged in bank fees every month – I never did and it was astonishing to see it add up! Try to find an account that has as little monthly or annual fees as possible (that still fits what you need it for). Eating out has been a big adjustment for J and me! Before we got our condo together we were eating out a lot because we never had groceries. Now that we budget groceries into it, have our own kitchen and enjoy cooking again, we can cut down on eating out. I like to keep the ‘everything else’ category as small as possible. I have an ‘everything else’ line item in there, which is just my miscellaneous category for monthly expenses that don’t fit elsewhere.

In addition to budgeting, I also track my expenses using the app “Expense 5”. It’s been my favorite expense tracking app so far and the easiest to use. I actually prefer not attaching my bank account to a spending app because I find manual entry easier and more accurate. If you want an app that attaches to your bank account, I recommend Mint.

It’s recommended that you re-adjust your budget every month but I haven’t gotten that intense about it yet. This is a good starting off point. I recently had my best friend do this budget to help her assess where she can save and used it to help her goal plan for the future. For example, if you want to move out but haven’t yet, you can use this budget to make a ‘mockup’ of what living solo or with a roommate would cost and whether you can afford it.

I hope this was helpful!

 

Beauty Review – LUSH’s Brazilliant Shampoo Bar

Apparently, I’m late to the ‘bar shampoo’ party, but whatever. Better late than never, right? I’ve purchased a few bar shampoos from LUSH but this has been the only one I’ve gotten a chance to try. It’s called “Brazilliant” and is a little orange disk that smells unbelievable (as all LUSH products do, I guess). It’s a solid bar that is supposed to ‘tame unruly locks’ with it’s strengthening andiroba oil, specifically thick and curly hair. No one believes me until they see pictures, but my hair naturally is the definition of unruly. It’s frizzy, it’s curly, it’s all over the place and I can’t control it. I’d give this bar a solid (no pun intended) 6/10 and here’s why:

Smell

Can’t be beaten in the smell category – it smells heavenly and delicious but you rarely find a LUSH product that would fail in this category

Consistency

I feel like if my shampoo doesn’t suds, it’s not working. This is a fairly sudsy bar and I loved the lather, so I thought it worked well

Price Point

For a bar of shampoo, it was decently priced. 55g bar costs $10.95, which is way cheaper than the shampoo I usually buy from the salon (Kevin Murphy is always shampoo king).  I wash my hair almost every day (gym life) and this bad boy lasted me a good month and a half. I did store it in the metal container I got from LUSH, which helped keep it away from moisture that could speed up it wearing down.

Results

Although it bragged to make my hair tamer, I didn’t find it to be the case. My hair was definitely soft but in no way did this tame my wild lion mane.

Cons

There’s no good way to store this thing. You can buy metal containers at LUSH that store their bar soaps, but the round container just fits the soap and once it gets wet then dries in the container, it’s hard to get out with wet hands. The associate recommended I put a piece of string underneath so it was easier to lift out but I’m not looking to MacGyver my shampoo experience, so I never did. I basically just rubbed the bar on my head while it sat in the metal container.

The other con was that I found the oil separated from the bar itself and sat on the top in a sticky pile and if I got a chunk of that in my hair, it took forever to get it out because it just kept lathering.

Have you tried bar shampoos? Did you have better luck than me? Would love to hear your thoughts!