January 31, 2012

February Photo Challenge

Uh, oh. It looks like I've gotten myself into another photo challenge!

For those of you that remember the last one I did, you'll recall my frustration with a few of the assignments. The list was both exceptionally vague and overly specific at times, which led to more than a few tense moments. (Yeah, sure. I can pull a rainbow out of my ass.) I did manage to finish it though and that gives me all sorts of bravado heading into this one. Like last summer's challenge, Lisagh will be snapping right along with me.

I found the list over on the Fat Mum Slim blog and it looks like it'll be good times. I am especially looking forward to #24, so that the world can see how incredibly dull* I really am. All you're going to see in there is a toothbrush, paste, floss and a few neglected exfoliating products. Like I said, this is going to be a gooder!

I'll be posting all of my daily shots on the Instagram and here on the blog. Feel free to comment, cajole and commiserate as I make my way through 29 (yes, twenty-nine - it's a leap year) days of thematic photo fun. And, here's the list, should you wish to play along...

*I once had a guest at my house comment on the surprising lack of prescription drugs in my bathroom cabinet. I was too dumbfounded to comment on his surprising lack of decorum.

Pattern Play

As much as I like to rip on certain style bloggers, I simply had to take a picture of this outfit. Wearing it gave me so much joy for so many reasons. Here are five off the top of my head:

1. Like I said to the girls at work, "I couldn't decide which colour to wear, so I wore all of them." Green jacket, red sweater, purple/red/mustard skirt, purple tights and brown boots? Why the heck not?

2. This is one of my favourite vintage blazers (from MCC on Sargeant - $3) because it supports my theory that windowpane plaid goes with everything. Even flowers.

3. Even though it is January, the weather has been nice enough to wear flippy little rayon skirts. With tights, of course, but still.

4. Speaking of skirts, this one (from Forever 21) was too small for me a couple of months ago. Ha! Take that, scale.

5. The whole thing started off with the tights, which makes me think that purple may be the new black.

Does this mark the beginning of a new feature on the blog? You can bet your Anna Sui fishnets it does.

January 30, 2012

Heavy Metal

My fitness bestie*, KK, gave me the most wonderful present to celebrate our passing Group Power certification. It's a little silver barbell charm (which, if were full-sized, would weigh 37.4lbs!)


It's perfect for so many reasons, the least of which is my obsession with all things miniature. I will wear it with pride, both as a token of our friendship and as a reminder to stay strong and rock hard**. 

*...and my late night texting bestie (and, let's be honest, my all-day texting bestie). 
**I am using "rock hard" as both a verb and an adjective.

January 27, 2012

Pretty up!

Tomorrow, in addition to my usual Saturday work-out and errands/grocery shopping, I am going to spend a little time getting ready for my photoshoot. 

First of all, I have to find something to wear to this thing, and then I am booked for a haircut at Rouge on Hargrave, followed by a manicure and a little brow-maintenance at the spa. You know, nothing over-the-top. (The whole idea is to make it appear that I look great all the time, despite my busy schedule.)

I don't think I they are expecting Heidi Klum, but god forbid I should show up on Monday morning with my usual bedhead... although, really, I'm sure the gang at Reh-fit is so used to seeing me like that, they wouldn't bat an eye. (And I love them for it!)

It'll be nice to be pampered for a couple of hours, though. I have a gift card from Urban Oasis Mineral Spa that has been burning a hole in my purse since Christmas (as if I need an excuse), and I am going to take full advantage of the mineral pool before heading in for my services. I'm sure it will make me extra photogenic. Or something.

Have a gorgeous weekend, peeps! Do something lovely for yourselves.

January 26, 2012

Pal o' Mine

For the past 3 weeks or so, I have been using an awesome app on my iPod Touch called MyFitnessPal. 

It's basically a food and fitness journal that tracks and analyses everything you eat and all of your physical activity*. You start out by entering your stats (age, sex, height, weight), set it for weight loss, weight gain, or maintenance and it does all of the calculations for you. You get to decide how fast or how slow you want to see results, but it will warn you if your goals are unsafe or unreasonable. (From what I can see, it won't set my daily minimum calories at less than 1200, no matter what I put in.)

Once it is set up, all you have to do for the food portion is to add the items that you've consumed, and it will give you a running total of your calories consumed, plus protein, carbs, fibre, fat, etc. It's a great way to see where you're at as you are going along, so that you can make better decisions on the fly. (ie: eat more fibre today or watch your salt intake.) It also lets you budget your calories for the day, which is great if you are planning a night out, getting together with the gang for brunch, or simply deciding between the medium or the large popcorn at the movies. 

One of my favourite features is within the food diary section. In addition to adding single food items, you can create recipes and meals. I use the recipes feature if I am cooking something that I might make again, or something that has multiple portions and I want a more accurate count of what is in each serving (like a soup). I use the meals feature to organize combinations of foods that I might eat on a regular basis, such as my go-to Subway lunch (6" egg white on honey oat with extra veggies and a bag of Baked Lays) or my lunchtime serving of raw veggies (aka the "vegelanche" - carrots, snap peas, cauliflower). When it comes time to log my food, I can easily add a serving of either a meal or a recipe in just one click, as opposed to, say, 12 clicks. 

The fitness portion allows you to enter your cardio or strength training activities, and adds your calories burned to your daily calorie "allowance". So, for example, if my daily goal is to consume 1400 calories and I burn 400 in a spinning class, I now have 1800 to eat. And, conversely, if I don't work out, then I have to stick to the baseline calories. The database has hundreds of physical activities - from auto repair to Zumba. (Ok, they technically don't have Zumba, but they do have high-impact step-aerobics.) I don't bother with stuff like "light housekeeping", but I do make sure that all of my spinning, Group Power, running, and even yoga get logged. (I've even bought a heart-rate monitor wristwatch to make my entries more accurate, but more about that in a later post.)

At the end of each day, you click a button to complete your entry and then it gives you a little message that tells you where you will be in 5 weeks, based on the current day's data and your progress. At any time, though, you can check your stats, update your current weight, or change your goals. I review my nutrition stats pretty much every time I log in to make an entry, but from time to time I like to take a peek at the little pie chart which gives me a visual of my carbs/fats/protein, just to see if I am getting the balance right. And it's all about balance, right?

I've been doing it for 3 weeks and I have already lost 3.5 lbs, so there must be something to it. Or, maybe it's just making me think before I cram stuff into my mouth... "Sure I can eat that cookie, but do I really want to have to add it to my diary?" A few people I know are using it, so it's been kinda fun to compare notes and stuff. I'm only trying to lose about 14 more lbs, but I can see sticking with it, if just to be more aware of how I am fuelling my body and to help me make healthy choices on an ongoing basis. Getting fit is hard work, yes, but I think staying fit takes just as much vigilance and commitment.

What I love - the barcode scanner for entering packaged foods. 
What I don't love - the database is largely crowd-sourced, so you have to be fairly knowledgeable when you are choosing items. 

MyFitnessPal is available for iPod Touch, iPad and iPhone, or online at myfitnesspal.com

*Well, the activity that you choose to share with it. ;-)

January 25, 2012

Curly Girl

After giving it much thought*, I have come to the conclusion that having long, curly hair is not unlike owning a small to medium sized pet.

I just wish they had some sort of obedience class for tresses like mine. "Sit" and "stay" mean nothing to my locks. "Roll over", on the other hand, we have mastered.

*I have a lot of time to ponder things while I am conditioning and detangling.

January 24, 2012

(Getting) Ready for my Close-up

Please, clear skin and good hair gods, be kind to me for the next 6 days. I have been asked to participate in a photoshoot at the Reh-fit Centre next Monday afternoon and I need to look my absolute glowing best.

The photoshoot is for the Reh-fit's annual magazine, called (aptly enough) "Power", featuring stories about members who use the centre and have been successful in getting (and staying) fit and healthy. I am beyond thrilled to be this year's featured "fit 35-45 year old "! 

In addition to the photoshoot, I will also be interviewed by a writer who will write the story about me, my active lifestyle and my journey towards health and fitness... and, I'm sure, will somehow make it sound interesting

Like I said, I am so, so excited and honoured to have been asked to be a part of this publication. I consider the Reh-fit more than just a gym - it is a top-notch health and fitness facility and, in a lot of ways, for the past two years the members and staff have been like a second family to me. After all, they get to see me with bed-head more than my fella and the mascot combined! (A dubious distinction, but a distinction nonetheless.) 

I don't know when the magazine will be published, but you can rest assured that I will share the piece with all of you here on my blog and on my Facebook... and via Twitter... in an email blast... and/or by carrier pigeon... maybe even door-to-door in a neighbourhood near you. 

What I am trying to say is that when it comes out, you will know. 

January 23, 2012

Hell on Wheel

Once upon a time, there was a girl named "Spinny". It wasn't her real nickname, of course, but that's just what the other kids called her. To this day, she doesn't know why, but let's just assume it had something to do with her...uh...exuberant attitude. 

Fast forward 27 years or so. They don't call her Spinny anymore, but if they did, they would have a perfectly good reason to. On Mondays and Fridays, she can be found channeling her exuberance during the 6:15am spin class at the Reh-fit Centre.

Full disclosure: I am talking about myself.

I first tried spinning at my old gym in Surrey, BC. I think I lasted exactly 6 minutes before throwing in the proverbial towel. It took me 4 years before I could summon up the courage to try again. My second class (at a new gym) went much better than the first, although I didn't manage any "jumps". I stuck it out for the full 45 mins, though, and two short weeks later, I was hooked. 

That was two years ago and I am still spinning away twice a week at 6:15am. Some days are pure torture, but the music, the instructors and the camaraderie of the group always keeps me coming back. 

Plus, not only is it fun, I think that it is one of the most-efficient workouts out there. 45 hot and sweaty minutes is all it takes to blast an average of 400 calories...and all you need to know how to do is pedal. 

Fancy moves, like these, are optional.

January 20, 2012

It's a tiara!

Some might say that posting videos every day is a poor excuse for proper blogging, but I am sure that you will forgive me when you see this one. It is the single-most joyful moment in TV for as long as I can remember.

Enjoy your weekend! I plan to spend mine hanging out, staying warm and wearing my tiara*. I will be back on Monday with something insightful. Pinky swear!

*I am a princess, after all. 

January 19, 2012

"You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness..."

Anyone who has walked past my desk this week has either heard me practicing my "Sterling Cooper Draper Price" greeting, or this song by Goyte, which I have playing on an almost-constant loop.

It is not the happiest of songs, lyrically, but it's positively addictive. So, rest assured, my obsession with it is not a cry for help or anything; I quite literally can't get enough of it. My co-workers on the other hand...

Note: the more astute amongst you will recognize Timbra from Tuesday's post. Good on ya!

January 18, 2012

Mad Men - season five

The fifth season of Mad Men will kick-off on Sunday, March 25th with a two-hour episode, directed by my third husband, Jon Hamm.

January 17, 2012

Settle Down with Kimbra

For just a few cents more than a cup of coffee—$3.96, to be exact—you can buy Kimbra's latest EP, Settle Down. Do it and you will have made a very wise (and rather frugal) purchase, my friends.

Kimbra is a young (oh, so young!) singer/songwriter, originally from New Zealand, but now based in Australia. I first heard of her in the way that I hear of everything new and exciting these days - on the Twitter. It seems that Curt Smith and his daughters had recorded a version of Kimbra's song, "Settle Down", and posted it to their Soundcloud. By coincidence, Kimbra and her bandmates had recently covered Tears For Fears' "Head over Heels" for a live radio appearance. Of course, being the curious kitty that I am, I had to check out both. 

As soon as I heard Kimbra start to sing, I was hooked.  For such a lovely young (oh, so young!) thing, she has a huge, growed-up sound that reminds me a bit of Esthero, crossed with Imogen Heap (and maybe a touch of Beth Gibbons from Portishead). Bottom line is, I dig. 

The Settle Down EP (Kimbra's North American debut!) is available on the iTunes. Coffee is available everywhere.

January 16, 2012

Step into (my) Parlour...

Urbane: notably polite or polished in manner.

I honestly can't think of a better word to describe Parlour Coffee.

In the middle of a busy day, there are few things better than stopping at the delightfully urbane Parlour for a quick Americano or, if there's time, a slightly less-quick pour-over. 

Even if the coffee wasn't the best in the city (which it is), the space is lovely, the people are welcoming, and I can't help but feel good just by being there. There is an inherent coolness to the joint, but the vibe is surprisingly inclusive, rather than exclusive. And, no matter who is in there at the time, I always feel like I am amongst my people. 

On the day that I took this photo, my fella had just left me there to return to work and I was perched on a stool in the sunny window, relishing the last few minutes of my break....and my Americano. I was literally and figuratively in my happy place. 

Parlour Coffee is located at 468 Main Street in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

January 13, 2012

The Ticketybook Club - chapter 2

I had been reading rave reviews for Mindy Kaling's book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), for months before I finally added it to my Christmas list. Luckily, my fella loves not having to guess at gifts and, come Christmas morning, there it was under my tree.

Given that the people who seemed to love the book were smart, funny gals, it came as no surprise to me AT ALL that the book itself was smart, funny and as girl-friendly as the pink sweater dress pictured on the cover. Fans of The Office, will know Mindy Kaling as the somewhat shallow, often acerbic (but still rather endearing) Kelly Kapoor. I was relieved to discover that Mindy is not completely like her TV counterpart, but much more like someone who I would want to be friends with. 

In this candid, hilarious, and sometimes self-depreciating collection of essays and lists, Mindy invites the reader into her busy world of comedy writing, acting, dating, eating and just, well... hanging out. It's a quick, clever read and had me laughing out loud on several occasions. This was the perfect bedtime book because I hit the pillow smiling every time I had to put it down. 

If you are looking for a sordid tale of drug-addiction, freaky sex and Hollywood scandal, this is not your best choice. If you are looking for a sordid tale of drug-addiction, freaky sex and Hollywood scandal, well... shame on you. Go watch TMZ.

Title: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Athor: Mindy Kaling
Genre: comedy, non-fiction
Number of pages: 240 (hardcover)
Good for: funny chicks
Sex, coarse language, violence: not really, no

January 12, 2012

Have you seen my keys?

It seems that no matter how hard I try to simplify my life, I can't seem to simplify my key ring. Without any exaggeration, one of the happiest days of my life was when I turned over the keys to my old condo in BC and realized that I had exactly two things on my keyring: the key for my Jetta and a vintage VW key fob, given to me by one of my closest friends. As I drove from Vancouver to Winnipeg to start my new life, the lightness of my keyring was the perfect metaphor for the lightness that I was feeling.

Don't get me wrong, I am still quite happy, but my key collection has once again expanded to almost unmanageable proportions. It amazes me when the set goes missing (which is often) and I am starting to understand how Schneider felt. And, yes, I know that all of that weight can't possibly be good for my ignition.

Today, while I was trying to figure out which of two identical keys open my front door, I noticed that I have a mystery key. I racked my brain trying to figure out what it could possibly open and I came up with two possibilities. It is either the key to my fella's garage (where one of my two bikes is stored) or someone is trying to mess with me. I am leaning towards the former, but you never know. The other odd thing that I noticed is that I have 2 doors, plus a garage door, yet I have 5 house keys. Again, I think I am being messed with. ;-)

And, just in case you were wondering, here's what I am toting around:

Clockwise from the top:
- key to Uncle G (VW Golf)
- antique skeleton key (given to me by my fella...the key to his heart, perhaps?)
- mystery key!!
- house keys (2)
- guitar-shaped house key
- house keys (2)
- VW camper key fob 
- Moksha yoga pass
- bike keys (2)

January 11, 2012


Big news! I am finally, officially (and very, very excitedly) a Group Power instructor! I have the certificate AND the rock-hard ass* to prove it. 

As most (if not all) of my Facebook, Twitter and, of course, real-life friends and family know, I have been working for the past two months to become a certified BTS instructor, starting with an intensive 3-day training session at the beginning of November. What followed was two months of memorization and practice, lots of team-teaching at two gyms, two video tapings, and plenty of nail-biting while I waited (weighted?) for my results. 

It was hard work, both mentally and physically, but it was also lots of FUN, thanks to the amazing group of instructors (and would-be instructors) that I got to train with. If it wasn't for their support and encouragement, I don't think I would have made it through. And I definitely wouldn't have made it to this point without my team-mate and fitness bestie, KK. Not only has she been a constant cheerleader, she has probably talked me down from at least a dozen ledges in the past two months. The best part? She received her certification at exactly the same time as me! How's that for kismet?

So, there you have it - one more thing to check off the ol' bucket list. What a great start to a new year!

*You are going to have to take my word for it. But, seriously, chairs fear me.

January 10, 2012

Flipping for Flipboard

Want to change the way you get your news and entertainment, read blogs and keep up with your social media sites on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad? There's an app for that.

I am hesitant to use the term "life changing", but Flipboard has definitely improved my surfing experience exponentially*. In particular, I love the way that it presents Facebook and Twitter feeds. If someone has posted a link or a photo, Flipboard displays it along with the text. Things that I may have ignored before, because I had to click on a shortened link or a tiny thumbnail, are now easily accessible and more likely to grab my interest. While it doesn't completely replace Twitter and Facebook apps**, it really makes perusing posts much more enjoyable.

The other thing that I love about Flipboard is how it curates the best of the web and delivers the coolest content, sorted by category, in an appealing and easy to read magazine-style format. You can literally "flip" from page to page, stopping at anything that piques your curiosity, and clicking on stories that you want to read more about. It also allows you to easily add blogs and RSS feeds, further personalizing your content to suit your interests. 

Flipboard is absolutely FREE and available through the app store.

*Full credit goes to my fella for suggesting that I download Flipboard to my iPod. xoxox
**Edit: once again, I've gotta give props to my fella for pointing out that you can, comment, retweet, etc while within Flipboard. Just click on the post to access the user controls!

January 9, 2012

The Ticketybook Club - chapter 1

Expectations were high, but I can confidently say that I started out this year's reading list with a winner. 

"The Unnamed" is Joshua Ferris' second novel and it is the story of a man with a condition that compels him to walk...and walk and walk and walk. His walks take him away from his home, his job as a partner in a law firm, his wife and his daughter. Eventually, his walks become his entire life and, in the process, he is transformed into a hobo, wandering from state to state and living out of a backpack (albeit with a seemingly endless supply of money). Facing the elements, but unable to stop walking, he loses fingers, toes, and, eventually, his sanity. 

Though heartbreaking on so many levels, I had a really hard time putting this book down. At the very core is a relationship between husband and wife (and parent and child) that literally caused my heart to hurt at times. And, as I knew it would, it came to a beautiful, tragic end. Much like Tom surrenders to his condition and lets it take him over, it's impossible not to acquiesce to the love story that is at times as painful as it is enduring.

I highly, highly recommend this book, as well as Ferris' first, "And then we came to the end." Both are available through your favourite (local, please) bookseller or (if you must) online.

Title: The Unnamed
Author: Joshua Ferris
Genre: fiction
Number of pages: 320 pages (trade paperback)
Good for: women & men
Sex, coarse language, violence: yes, yes, no
Rating: better than popcorn 

January 8, 2012

Soul Mates vs Cell Mates

After watching a movie about prison, love and other randomly connected events...

My fella: "If you get the right cell mate, they can end up being your soul mate."

Me: "But if you get the wrong soul mate, they are gonna feel like your cell mate."

January 6, 2012

Oh, hello new favourite band...

I love, love, love discovering new music. Especially new music that sounds like old music. 

Behold my latest find: Metronomy. 

I could be arriving late to the party here; for some reason they have managed to stay beneath my radar all this time. Better late than never, I suppose, but I can't help but wish that I had discovered them sooner.

You can download their single, The Look, for free on iTunes this week. I just grabbed it, but I don't think I'll be able to stop there. I like everything I have heard so far, and you know me, when I like something, I want it all!

What do you think?

January 5, 2012

Gifts for the Gifted

As nice as it would have been for *me*, Christmas morning wasn't just breakfast followed by an hour of my fella and the mascot watching me open my gifts. They got a few nice things, too. 

I made out like a bandit, but R went home with a pretty good haul, too. I know for a fact that he has been getting lots of use out of the wireless keyboard that we gave him, and I can't wait to try out his new GPS on our next adventure. 

The real highlight, though, was when the mascot opened his XBOX 360. Not just because it is what he's been asking for (relentlessly), or because I didn't bring out the box until all of the other gifts were opened, but because in order to get one, he had to make a little deal with me. It was a pretty standard agreement: achieve 79 or higher in ALL of his subjects at school and I would buy him an XBOX. Easy peasy, right?

Of course, when I proposed this, I honestly didn't think that I would be forking over the $300. He's a good student, yes, but this is grade nine...high school...the big time. I figured he would kill in a few subjects and then scrape by in a couple others. I had NO idea that he would finish the term with an average in the 80s and a spot on the school's honour roll! Gah! Well, as it happened, he came home with a stellar report card and I had to put my money where my mouth is. Literally. Thankfully, report card day happened to coincide with "black Friday", so I managed to get a good deal on the system through Future Shop online...and it even included the Kinect*! 

Needless to say, the boy is thrilled with his gift. He set it up all by himself and has been playing it almost non-stop since Boxing Day. Which is good, because as soon as school resumes on the 9th, he'll be back to the books and working hard to keep those grades up. 

*Now I can play Zumba! I mean, I'm sure there are many games that the boy will enjoy.

January 4, 2012

I must've been nice...

Yeah, yeah, yeah... I know... Christmas is about giving, not getting.

That said, I got some pretty sweet ish this Christmas. 

From the fella: a gorgeous scarf and silver Hamsa (Hand of Fatima) necklace, two books that I really, really, really wanted, an external dvd player/writer for my laptop, an iPod case, a RED immersion blender and a shoe-shaped scotch tape dispenser. 

From the mascot: a footed bamboo cutting board and a garlic press, a collection of spiced vanilla treats from The Body Shop and some pretty awesome stocking stuffers.

From the mother: cash to buy a new yoga mat/carrying strap and a fancy yoga towel.

From the step-mother and the "kids": a big, fat spa GC, a big fat Starbucks GC, a cool clutch made from pop-tabs and a box of Tiber River goodies.

Yup. I'm spoiled. 

What was under your tree this year?

January 3, 2012

I resolve!

I, like many people, used to think that New Year's resolutions were silly and arbitrary, however I have since changed my tune. In fact, this year I am not only making resolutions; I am setting goals and working on intentions that will (hopefully) guide my next 12 months. 

Resolutions - These are going to be ongoing, big-picture things. I resolve: to stay healthy, active and fit and, in doing so, to be a role-model to others; to maintain a strong relationship with my son and to help him develop useful skills and positive behaviours; to love and be loveable; to be faithful, loyal and honest; to control my finances and manage my spending; to maintain a level head when "haters be hatin'"; to work hard, be a useful member of the team and advance in my job. 

Goals - I'll be setting these monthly. They might be fitness related ("run 5k, three times weekly"), job related ("teach 8 Group Power classes"), home related ("get the dishwasher fixed"), or just for fun ("learn to surf").

Intentions - Set daily, or even hourly, intentions are little plans that help you guide your mind and, in turn, lead you towards achieving your goals. In yoga, I use intentions to focus my practice to get the results that I want. This year, I want to start every morning by setting an intention and then revisit it at bedtime to assess the results. Some will be personal challenges, and some will just serve as reminders to be kind, live mindfully, etc. 

The object of all of this is to live better, to feel better, to do things better... to just be better.

I can't think of a better way to start 2012, can you?

January 2, 2012

Say hello to 2012!

I set some time aside yesterday to post a Happy New Year message, but my need to nap apparently far outweighed my need to blog. After an epic bowl of soba noodle soup, I curled up under my new pink Snuggie* and closed my eyes for "just a minute". Well, 2 hours later, I woke up in a dark living room, disoriented but rested.

You can blame it on the duller-then-dull movie that I had on, but the culprit was most likely my back-to-back Group Power launches this weekend at both Reh-fit and Rady, not to mention my 2:30am bedtime on New Years Eve. In short, I needed sleep and, rather than wait around for permission, my body just took it.

As a result of my little nap, my blog post didn't get written and my Christmas tree got to stay up for one more day. Rather then get into a bunch about it, though, I am going to let it slide. Moments like that are very rare for me and I might as well enjoy them when I can. That is going to be one of my resolutions this year. Not to nap more (although that in itself sounds like an excellent plan), but to take advantages of little indulgences as they present themselves. Today that is taking 45 minutes to sit in a Starbucks to play Angry Birds and catch up on the weekend's emails. Ok, make that 60 minutes...

*Honestly, the thing is horrifying. I bought it as a gag gift for myself (from Santa)...as if that justifies it in any way.