Archive for February, 2011

I’m grounded this week. I haven’t been feeling well, and it’s been busy at work, so I have decided to skip my workout. That means that I’m putting more energy into household chores. It’s also a good excuse to obsess about stupid things, and master some very important skills, like making the bed without making the dog move.

Step 1: Wait until the dog leaves the room and frantically start pulling the fitted sheet over the corners.

Step 2: See a black streak go by your eyes and realize that you just aren’t as fast as she is.

Step 3: Don’t be tempted to try to order the dog off the bed. She may jump down, but she’ll be back, and it’s really more of a hassle to try to move her.

Step 4: Make sure the dog is sitting right in the  middle of the bed.

Step 5: Gently pull corners over the mattress, move to the other side and do the same thing.

Step 6: Get flat sheet and find an open corner (that’s easy, since all the corners are open). Line the sheet  up on the one side of the bed, while making a small pile with the rest of the sheet.

Step 7: When the dog gets up to examine the pile, move quickly and gently pull the sheet flat under her feet, and across the other side of the bed.

Step 8: Lift the end of the mattress to tuck in your sheet, pointing and laughing at the dog when she is surprised by the sudden movement.

Step 9: Get the duvet. This is when having the dog in the middle of the bed is most helpful.

Step 10: Throw the duvet over the dog’s head in a vain attempt to try to intimidate her.

Step 11: Panic, thinking the dog will get confused under the blanket and fall off the bed, breaking her legs. Pull the covers away from her head.

Step 12: Move around the bed cooing gently and saying kind words of positive reinforcement, so that the dog gets completely mixed messages, and in her confusion refuses to move from her spot in the middle of the bed.

Step 13: Line up the duvet to any available part of the bed.

Step 14: Give up in despair as the dog moves to the biggest pile of duvet, making any further progress impossible under the current circumstances.

Step 15: Stop for a cup of tea–maybe a break will convince the dog to move.

Step 16: Come back to the bedroom to find that your “break” has had no effect on the dog’s position.

Step 17: Pick up the dog.

Step 18: Smooth out the duvet.

Step 18: Put the dog down, and realize that she has just made her way back to the bed.

Step 19: Replace pillows.

Step 20: Make sure all favourite toys are accounted for.

Step 21: Accept that it doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s just a bed after all.

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Cooking is new to me. I know, it’s not much of a confession, anyone who knows anything about cooking, baking, grocery shopping or being in the kitchen can tell that I know next to nothing about cooking. Imagine my humiliation last week when I announced that I had made a spaghetti squash dish, only to discover that it was actually a butternut squash. And thank you to all of you who did not make fun of my total ignorance. In my defence, the squash were mislabeled at the grocery store, so really, I would like to shove the blame onto someone else.

This is a spaghetti squash. Now I know. I also know that I love butternut squash, so I guess there is a silver lining. As you can see spaghetti squash is very tough, and bested even my best and sharpest knife. It was so scary that I considered locking the dog in the bathroom until I was done cutting.

As you can see I made it through, and I still have all of my original fingers and toes. I also did not stab myself in the abdomen and the dog is still alive, so…all things considered it was a success.

I was a little bit concerned about waste, but I decided it wasn’t worth risking more knife work to salvage what was left of the squash. So I took what I had and seasoned with butter, pepper, coarse salt, and then my hand landed on the cumin, and I thought “why not?” so there’s also cumin in this dish.

I roasted the squash for 45 minutes, but I don’t think it was enough; my squash was a little el dente.

I was totally stunned by just how much like spaghetti this looked. Nature does some funny and amazing things sometimes.

Then I added in my warmed up quinoa, tomatoes, zucchini and onion. I also added more seasoning: Salt, pepper, butter, and..why not, more cumin!

Finally, I added the salmon and a touch of lemon juice. I mixed it all together until I ended up with this.

Yum! So I would do a few things differently: I would roast the squash longer, so that it’s just a little more tender. Also, I would use a little less cumin. It was good, just a little too much for my taste. Otherwise, I loved it. I found it very filling, and I would totally make it again.

But first, I need to get a much better knife.

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In the Netherlands, bicycles are freely availa...

This is where I'm used to riding (Image via Wikipedia)

My coworker and I were coming out of Body Pump last Thursday, when I finally admitted it…I don’t like step class. I’m completely uncoordinated and I live in fear that I will take a tumble off that board (I may be overstating it, but this really is a serious concern). Aside from the fear is the knowledge that I just don’t like that class. I have no trouble eliminating it from my weekly routine. This means that I need to find a new class for Tuesday night.

After talking to a friend I’d really like to find a Body Flow class. It’s a combination of ballet and yoga, plus it’s supposed to offer a guided relaxation at that end of class, so I think that would be a nice addition to my weekly schedule.

We both talked about adding a spinning class to our routines. I love bike riding, and I thought that I would like to try the spinning class. See, I measure success in sweat, and I thought that spinning class would be a good way to sweat a little. I tried talking my coworker into going with me one Saturday morning, but it’s a long way for her to come, and she reminded me that this whole experience is about pushing myself beyond my comfort zone…so that’s what I did.

I took Cadie out for a nice hike early Saturday morning, so that I’d be back in time to get to Spin Class at 10:30.

I got there nice and early, I got a lot of help from some really nice women who came over and helped me adjust my seat and my handle bars, then class began. I was pedaling, and feeling really proud of myself for being able to keep up. But man! my legs were killing me, and that seat. No one should have to sit on that seat. Though, in retrospect, I don’t know that “coming out of the saddle” as the instructor put it, was really any better.

I made the mistake of checking out the clock after 3 or 4…maybe 5 sections, honestly, I lost track. The point is, that in checking out the clock I realized 2 things:

1) I had already been pedaling for 30 minutes

2) I had another 30 minutes to go.


This is when I decided that I would stop trying to keep up; instead, I would just try to keep my feet moving. I figured that just finishing the time was enough of an accomplishment for a first class, right? So that’s what I did: I just kept my feet moving, and I could feel the wheels getting heavier underneath me. At one point my toe slipped and I stopped pedaling. You have no idea how much effort I needed to get my foot back in the straps and push forward. That’s when I made my second big mistake–I looked at the clock again. I still had 20 minutes to go.

Doubt flooded my mind, and the words “I can’t do it, I can’t do it” seemed to be on a loop in my mind. I slowed the bike down again, and started debating with myself about how best to leave this very small room without looking (feeling) like a quitter. Then something miraculous happened. The instructor said “it’s time for the stretch” Ha! I made it, if only by accident.

It was probably the most intense workout I’ve ever  had. I can still feel it in my knees (a side effect of not having the bike adjusted properly) but it was a good workout. I’m going to try it a couple more times to decide if I like it, but I would say the first time was a success.

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I admit it, I live for the weekend. I wouldn’t describe myself as hugely ambitious — it’s not that I have no ambition, just that it’s mostly about spending time with the puppy.

Tuesday is the worst day of the week for me, but Friday is the hardest. It never used to be this way, maybe it’s because of the killer Body Pump class on Thursday night, but by Friday morning I can hardly pull myself out of bed and out the door. Also, by Friday Cadie is so lonely that she clings to me for most of my prep time, which makes moving around and leaving even harder.

Oh well, one more day and then, since it’s a long weekend, I’ll be able to lounge around for 3 whole days. Look out Cadie, you’re about to have a great weekend of adventures. And look out too bed, I need to get caught up on my sleep.

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Earlier this week my friend Bene sent me an email with a link to a great squash recipe from Martha Stewart’s website for what looked like a delicious spaghetti squash meal. I had no idea there was such a thing as spaghetti squash, but the picture was so appealing, and it also featured shrimp, Yum and Yum.

The recipe really only involved 3 steps: roast the squash, roast the shrimp, combine the two, enjoy! Alright, 4 steps. So after I figured out what a spaghetti squash was I was more than a little excited to try this recipe out. But it needed some work. The first change was that, on Bene’s advice, I removed the seeds before roasting the squash. This was good advice.

I seasoned the squash with ground pepper and coarse salt, then placed it face-down in 3/4 of a cup of water. The oven should be set to 375, and it should take about 45 minutes to leave the squash tender.

The second change I made was to add quinoa. I decided to add the quinoa because Penelope doesn’t like shrimp. So, while the squash was roasting I made a big pot of it.

While the quinoa was being made and the squash was roasting I decided to up the flavour factor a little more, by warming up some cherry tomatoes, onions (not pictured) and zucchini. I kept the heat as low as possible; I just wanted the veg to be warm, and tomatoes can have a somewhat unpleasant texture if they’re overcooked.

Allow the squash to cool, and then strip the “meat” out with a fork so that it is long and stringy.

I didn’t have a spaghetti squash, so mine was more squishy than stringy. Not that I’m complaining, it was still delicious.

Next, combine everything to taste. I have no idea how much quinoa is here, so just add as much as you think you would like.

Then add everything else. I chose to add the veg first, serve Penelope, then add the shrimp. Doesn’t that look good? Warm, but also fresh, the perfect meal for this time of year.

The shrimp was good, but you could also use salmon, or go without any sea fish. It’s a very filling meal even without it.

All this meal needs is a fabulous glass of pino grigio, or a glass of sparkling pink lemonade. Yes, I’m now in love with squash, and will be eating it regularly. Thank you Bene.

And Bon Appetit!

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Women in a Publix grocery store: Tallahassee, ...

Image by State Library and Archives of Florida via Flickr

As you know, adding Step classes once a week was one of my goals for 2011. That being said, I haven’t had much luck getting to Step Class this month. I had to work late last Tuesday, and this week I had to hurry home because I was worried about Cadie. Originally, the plan had been to take Cadie for a good, long walk, then head out to Body Pump at 7, but I was without food, so instead of going to Body Pump, I decided to do my grocery shopping. I hate grocery shopping, it’s kind of like ironing to me; that being said, I love having fresh food waiting for me at home. Here are some of my treasures.

Firstly, I did not buy pizza, french fries and chicken strips. How these items ended up being photographed in my kitchen is inexplicable to me.

Feed me tomatoes! I think I’ve been eating too much comfort food; I want fresh food that makes me feel light and happy. Tomatoes always make me light and happy, plus they are cancer fighters. So they got a big check as I added 2 different varieties to my cart.

I have also been craving zucchini. These zucchini don’t look all that good–in fact, I think you can see just how beaten up they are, even in this picture. Still, the heart wants what it wants, and my heart wants zucchini. Until tomorrow my sweet.

Root vegetables–so you can see that I’m not totally over comfort food. I can’t wait to play around with these vegetables. Oh, and wipe the stove. Life is good!

Some necessities. I can’t stand not having milk in the apartment. So yes, I buy 4L, and it’s all for me! I also bought eggs and butter, so now I can bake again.

If I’m going to take my journey for health to the next level I need to start addressing some of my weaknesses. I bought these lovelies to take to work for easy snacking. I have no idea if they are seeded or seedless (though my money is on seeded). I guess we’ll find out tomorrow. (I have so many plans to eat so many things tomorrow–this is the upside of grocery shopping:D).

I was so excited to find the Quinoa, oh the things I will do with this…will tomorrow never get here?

A little treat for after dinner. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you know that I don’t believe in depriving myself of the things that I love, and I LOVE ice cream, but I can nudge myself closer to a healthier lifestyle by choosing frozen yogurt.

My colonial mind is addicted to crumpets. So warm and buttery. MMMMMMM.

What goes with crumpets? Tea, of course. I’ve got Lady Grey for the office and lemon ginger for right before bed. A word on Lady Grey, if you haven’t tried it yet you should. It’s a lovely, light black tea with a hint of citrus.

I never buy shrimp, let alone cook with it, so here’s hoping I don’t ruin it. I also bought chicken, but I consider it to be a staple, like milk and eggs.

Oh no, that’s the end. Still, it’s a good haul for one trip to the grocery store.

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Image-Image-Boote unter Schnee - Nr 3

Image via Wikipedia

Dear Winter,

I admit, I’ve enjoyed winter, I’ve even had some fun hiking through deep snow. Cold winds blowing across my face, and shorter days, but…it’s over. I’m tired of spending 10 minutes to get dressed every night to take Cadie out for a 2 minute bio-break, only to spend another 10 minutes taking off outer wear when we’re back inside.

But the killer for me has been this latest thaw and refreeze. When the piles of snow thawed it exposed a ton of uncollected dog poop (which is seriously gross and unhygienic, especially for the dogs) as well as discarded garbage bags (really, did you think the snow would melt the bag, and all of its contents, and your garbage would just disappear?). Less gross, but more dangerous is the black ice that has formed on sidewalks and roads, frozen from the run-off of the melting piles. At any rate, the fairy tale is over. Nothing, not even a new coat of snow (which only makes black ice more dangerous) can make this right again. It’s time for winter to go.

So instead I will focus on the good to come. Longer days: have you noticed that dawn seems to come at about 7:10 am now, and we have day light until close to 6:00 pm? The fact that the thaw has exposed some grass, sure it’s dead, but I had almost forgotten it was down there. And the fact that we’ve already purchased our tickets to the Blue Jays opening game. I will focus all of my thoughts on pushing through to spring, when I will find myself sitting in the Dome, with 50,000 other “fans” eating pizza, and watching the Jays beat the Twins. Ahh.

So even though winter has suddenly become gross, it means spring is right around the corner, and with spring, comes a need to get out and clean up this God-awful mess…since I’m not all that keen on picking up the poop of other people’s dogs, spring can take its time getting here.

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