Jul 29, 2014
Samantha Angela
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Birthday Celebration

This weekend I celebrated my first annual 29th birthday. I’m getting old. On the bright side I did get carded at the LCBO on Sunday, so there’s that.

I planned on having another beach birthday party on Saturday afternoon but was worried about the dismal forecast that called for 60% risk thunderstorms. I had a back up plan that involved less sand & sun and more alcohol consumption but luckily (unluckily?) the weather cooperated and I was able to host my beach picnic after all.

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We went to Cedar Beach in Kingsville and by we I mean Matt and I and my friends Tina, Andrea, Jasmine, Dan, and Mike.

We did handstands on the beach. We tossed around the football like a hot potato. We swam in the potentially e.coli-contaminated lake (welcome to the Lake Erie north shore, folks).

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I made a muffuletta and a hummingbird cake. We drank mimosas and wine cocktails. It was a great birthday with friends!

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When the weather started to look dodgy we headed back to my friend Andrea’s house for a short while before calling it a night.

I woke up early on Sunday morning and taught a yoga class to a whopping 7 people (that sounds sarcastic but 7 is a lot for a crack-of-dawn class on a Sunday). I deadlifted and then went home and brewed a French press pot of the Jimmy’s coffee that I picked up while visiting my girlfriend in Toronto.

When my husband got home from his own weightlifting, he had me open my present which he was so excited to give me. I know he was excited because he actually took pictures of me opening it without needed me to prompt him to “Go get the camera. Why aren’t you taking pictures?”.

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A new messenger bag! (this one)

Brown leather, Roots, gorgeous. And also slightly too small so off we went to the mall trade it in for the same bag that was a size bigger (this one). Perfect.

I spent the rest of Sunday afternoon reading the history of Catherine the Great (fascinating read, by the way) and then made my way to teach another yoga class in the evening. I was excited that my friend Jasmine was able to make it to my class while she is in town from B.C. regardless of how late she was to the class ;)

Afterward, I met up with my family at Mauro’s on Erie Street for some good Italian food. Tableside penne carbonara and cherries jubilee, for the win.

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It was such a great weekend and I felt so much love from friends and family for my birthday.

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Today I piled together all my gifts. What a massive haul! I’m so grateful for everyone’s generosity and the thoughtfulness of every single gift I received regardless of value. Thank you all!

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Sheep sweater, ‘Is it Friday yet?’ mug, notebook, candle 1, candle 2, robot-shaped headphone splitter, teas, 2 brooches, muppets stickers, gift cards to Timmie’s, Starbucks, & Taloola, Roots messenger bag, Roots t-shirt, Under Armor workout shirt, Roots hoodie. Not pictured: money, a chocolate bar, and 2 peanut butter cookies.

1 Comment
Jul 26, 2014
Samantha Angela
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Links for a Sunday Morning

Hot Yoga Yields Fitness Benefits – Medical Xpress

Subjects showed significant gains in spine, hamstring and shoulder flexibility and improved whole body strength, but cardiovascular performance and aerobic fitness remained largely unchanged.

Canada Revenue Agency says ‘preventing poverty’ not allowed as goal for charity – The Globe and Mail

Canada Revenue Agency officials informed Oxfam that “preventing poverty” was not an acceptable goal. “Relieving poverty is charitable, but preventing it is not,” the group was warned. “Preventing poverty could mean providing for a class of beneficiaries that are not poor.”

Yoga May Positively Impact People With Social Anxiety Disorders, Change Their View Of The World - University Herald

People who either walked or jogged on a treadmill for 10 minutes perceived ambiguous human figures as facing towards them (ie. exhibiting social anxiety) less often than those who simply stood on the treadmill. The same was true when people performed progressive muscle relaxation (yoga)

The Importance of Eating Together - The Atlantic

In America, it seems snobbish to take time to eat good food with one’s family. The Norman Rockwell portrait of the family around the dinner table now seems less middle-class and more haute bourgeois, as many families can’t afford to have one parent stay home from work, spending his or her day cleaning and cooking a roast and side of potatoes for the spouse and kids.

Beyond Salty and Sweet: A Budding Club of Tastes – NY Times

One candidate for the next basic taste appears to have emerged as the front-runner: fattiness. The idea has been around for a while, and many scientists thought it was not a specific taste, more like a texture or an aroma.

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Jul 26, 2014
Samantha Angela
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Windsor Prenatal Yoga

I just completed my final teaching evaluation with my Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training instructor Laurel Hicks and I’m so happy that she approved me to go into the world and teach real pregnant women (not just my friends wearing pillows for bellies). It’s an exciting and scary idea.

Simultaneously, the small but growing group of Windsor prenatal yoga teachers has decided to establish a Windsor Prenatal Yoga facebook page to provide information about prenatal yoga workshops, classes, and events available in the Windsor area.

Prenatal Facebook Page

 

 

If you’re in Windsor and you’re pregnant, planning on becoming pregnant, or know someone who is, like our page to keep up to date with the all the local prenatal yoga activity.

I’m in the process of re-vamping my yoga website with lots more information about my class offerings and expect to see more blog posts and Links for a Sunday Morning posts that include info on yoga and prenatal yoga.

As they say, Namaste folks!

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Jul 18, 2014
Samantha Angela
4 Comments

Overheard at the Gym

Overheard at the Gym

Transcription of a conversation that actually happened this week between an unrelated man and a woman weightlifting at the gym:

While doing incline bench press. . .

Dude: “How many sets do you have left?”

Chick: “2.”

Dude: “Mind if I work in with you? I’ll just warm up once you finish this set.”

Chick: “Sure.”

Dude: “I’ve seen you lifting some heavy weight before. Is this all you can do?” (referring to the 45lb bar)

Chick: Nervous laughter. “Yeah, that’s it.”

Dude: “You want to get the bar a little closer to your chin. It will give you more power.”

Chick: “Uh. . . okay. Thanks.” (editor’s note: her face did not say ‘thanks’)

Dude: “Did you tell me before that you were married?”

Chick: “Uhhh no? No. Not even close.”

Dude: “Oh, I thought that was you.”

. . .

While doing dumbbell bench press. . .

Dude: Goes over to Chick on the bench. “You want your elbows out a little more so they’re in line with your shoulders.” Touches her elbows to adjust them.

Chick: “Okay. Thanks.” (editor’s note: her face said ‘don’t fucking touch me’)

Dude: “I mean, you can do it with your elbows in a little. This is how I do it, with my elbows out.” Demonstrates what he’s talking about. “See. Like that.”

Meanwhile, I try to make eye contact with Dude so I can give him a look that says “Stop doing that. Really. Just stop.”

When Dude walks away to socialize with other gym rats . . .

I glance over and offer a look of “What the fuck?” to Chick and her face mirrors my own.

Chick: “Oh my god, he touched me!”

Me: Walk over to Chick so our conversation is not overheard. “What the hell was that about?”

Chick: “I don’t know, but he touched me.”

Me: “And ‘Is that all you can do?’ Is he for real?? That’s not cool. I hope he doesn’t come back.”

Chick: “I know. Thanks.”

Me and Chick proceed to bond over the struggle to build strength and how neither of us is athletic or can catch a ball if our life depended on it.

Here’s what’s wrong with this whole situation:

1) Unsolicited advice is never welcome at the gym. Don’t fix someone else’s form because if people wanted help they would hire a personal trainer. In this case, Chick’s form wasn’t even bad it was just different from Dude’s. But even if you see someone with absolutely atrocious form who you’re afraid is going to seriously injure themselves then just tell a personal trainer and they can choose whether or not to talk to that person.

2) If you can’t keep your mouth shut at least keep your advice hands-off. If someone wants a hands-on spotter, they will ask.

3) Never say “Is that all you can do?”. Ever. Especially to a woman who may feel self-conscious in the weight room and be struggling to feel comfortable there among heavy lifting men. And especially to a woman doing chest exercises which, in my own experience, is one of the hardest areas for women to build strength.

It’s moments like this that make me understand why the gym has women’s only rooms. And I now understand that he weights are lighter in these rooms because “that’s all we can do.”

4 Comments
Jul 13, 2014
Samantha Angela
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Links for a Sunday Morning

Is gaining weight inevitable as we age? - The Globe and Mail

New science is revealing that age-related weight gain has very little to do with caloric balance and much more to do with the altered physiology of the aging body and adverse environmental and lifestyle factors.

Why Your Yoga Class Is So White – The Atlantic

The problem isn’t that people of color can’t afford yoga. They just don’t value it very much. . . “People find money to buy thousand-dollar bags and shoes, and weaves, those cost hundreds of dollars to upkeep. But African Americans don’t have a great track record when it comes to preventative health. Wellness is not really valued.”

Peak Ink: Why Tattoos Have Lost Their Exotic Thrill – The Globe and Mail

The mere act of letting a sharp needle pierce and mark your delicate skin is no longer enough to prove your edgy individuality, and formerly badass body art is acquiring a nostalgic, sepia tinge.

Why Eugenie Bouchard is not, and shouldn’t be “Canada’s Tennis Sweetheart” - Puzzling Posts

She’s a young woman, so she’s automatically deemed a “sweetheart.” Because we can’t think of a woman with as much blonde hair and as athletic a body as she has as just another athletic superstar.

How to be Happy by Giving to Others – Scientific American

When striving to help others, it may be much better for you to frame your goals in concrete terms than abstract ones, as this could increase your “helper’s high”. The helper’s high not only makes you happier in that moment, but it more strongly motivates you to give again in the future.

Why Can’t You Just Nurse With a Cover? An Answer in Photos - Mothering

Even if you personally and magically were somehow able to nurse a baby past four months old under a cover with no issues, please, I beg you, stop telling moms to cover up. It’s unfeasible.

Are Handstands Good for You? – Breaking Muscle

Our shoulders are not our hips. If we put all of our body weight on our arms routinely throughout a week, month, or year of practice, we risk losing the mobility our shoulders are designed to have.

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Jul 11, 2014
Samantha Angela
3 Comments

Yoga, BBQ, and Babies

I was blessed to have a second consecutive weekend of awesomeness following up my Canada Day weekend.

Musical Genius

Friday night I met up with my lady cousins for dinner and drinks at the Kilt & Fiddle pub in downtown Windsor in honour of my cousin Nicole’s birthday. We sat at a table next to a man that kept calling me Amy (“I don’t know your name so I’m just gonna to call you Amy”) and asking me the name of the artist of every. single. song. that came on the speaker. Serves me right for making the mistake of interrupting his conversation with his family as they tried to determine who sang Iris. A: The Goo Goo Dolls. No Shazam App necessary.

True story.

But more importantly, we ate a deep fried Mars bar. Check that off your bucket list, Nikki!

Deep Fried Mars Bar

Yoga Rocks the Art Walk

Saturday I had the honour of teaching 25 yogis a Power Yoga class under the sun and clear blue skies at Breathe Pilates Studio as part of the Walkerville Art Walk and Rock. It was the biggest class that I’ve ever taught! I was so excited by the turnout especially after the woman that taught the (much more popular) 9am yoga in the streets spread the word through the town that my class would be really, really hard.

Walkerville Art Walk Yoga

My reputation precedes me, evidently.

But seriously guys, it wasn’t too hard right? Right? *crickets*

I attempted to actually spend some time walking down Wyandotte Street to check out the art vendors but, this being Sesame Street Walkerville, I couldn’t get 10 metres without running into someone I knew who took me to his newly purchased townhouse around the corner. By the time I made it back it was time for me to get back home to the husband to celebrate our anniversary.

Happy Anniversary

Saturday was part 1 of Matt’s and my 2 part anniversary. Because we had a civil wedding and a separate religious one we have two options for anniversary celebration dates and this year we chose option 1. We’ve been married now for 6 years and have been together for 10.

Yes, I said 6 years. No, no children yet. Yes, I got married young. And also, time flies.

We decided to celebrate with a leg of lamb big enough to feed 10, because that’s what we do.

Leg of Lamb Roast

I chilled on the hammock as the lamb was barbecued, drinking a glass of wine on an empty stomach and, ironically, reading a novel about divorce (The Paris Wife. Good read, btw.) We ate and it was delicious. Then we reclined on the hammock some more. Then we ate plum tart that I baked from my Bouchon Bakery cookbook.

None of this sounds very exciting, but sometimes (often) boring is perfect, as was the case on Saturday.

Plum Tart

Plum Tart. Not as good as Plum Torte but still a delight.

Baptism by Water

Sunday’s event brought me a new title: Godmother. I saw my niece become baptized in the Catholic Church in the same robe that my sister and I wore for our own baptisms.

Now I am tasked with encouraging her religious pursuits like sacraments, questions of faith, and celebrations of Catholic holidays. Luckily, Matt happens to be the Godfather because his religious devotion heartily trumps my own.

Baptism

We followed up the sacrament with a catered lunch and an enthusiastic swim in the pool with my sister’s nephews. Kids are fun to swim with that’s for sure. Or fun to swim for I should say, as I spent much of my pool time diving for pool toys on command. And I didn’t mind one bit.

 

 

 

3 Comments
Jul 2, 2014
Samantha Angela
4 Comments

Canada Day Weekend

What a weekend this has been, full to the brim with exciting events. I have virtually no photographic evidence so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

You’ll have to take my word for it that Matt took me to the Greek Caroussel yet again for more loukoumades very late on Friday night to appease my bout of hangriness after an absurdly long wait for food at a local restaurant.

You’ll have to take my word for it that I celebrated my cousin’s birthday on Lake Erie where the water was warm and the weather was perfectly hot but breezy. I got a chance to be in a sail boat for the first time– a tiny little thing that seated two uncomfortably and required extreme bodily contorsion so as not to get whacked with the sail. We only capsized once and where I come from (ie. dry land) that’s considered a success. We drank sangria. We ate burgers and party potatoes and cake. It was a phenomenal time.

You’ll have to take my word for it that I rolled my ass out of bed at an ungodly hour on Monday to catch the train to Toronto for a two day visit with  my friend Sarah whom I’ve missed dearly. As soon as we exchanged hugs at Union Station she received word that she passed her final exams and is now a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. YAY!

Train Ride!

Me on the VIA Rail at a not-so-ungodly hour at this point.

You’ll have to take my word for it that Sarah and I surprisingly (not surprisingly?) spent two days doing a lot of nothing. We wandered the streets of Toronto aimlessly only stopping for food or ice cream or caffeine. Over two days we covered what I later calculated to be 28km in the uncomfortably hot and humid weather while discussing nutrition and exercise and love and gossip. It was totally perfect.

Ice Cream stop at Boreal

Ice Cream pit stop at Boreal – Balsam Ice Cream FTW

On Monday night I was exhausted from waking up so early, from the heat, and from walking all day so going out at night was not an option if I intended to keep my eyes open. I crashed at 11 in the spare room of Sarah’s ancient rented home with its leaky ceiling, sloped floors, and cracking walls and I awoke grateful that the house survived one more night without collapsing in on itself.

Sarah and I at Queen's Park

Sarah and I at Queen’s Park

Tuesday was Canada day which means more in Ottawa than Toronto but we visited provincial parliament just the same. It was mostly family oriented event but there was a bit of entertainment, a small farmer’s market, and free strawberries from Foodland Ontario, so I’d call it a win.

Canada D'eh at Queen's Park

What a weekend!

How was your Canada Day weekend?

 

4 Comments
Jun 29, 2014
Samantha Angela
1 Comment

Links for a Sunday Morning

The Dark Night of the Soul - The Atlantic

We have a lot of positive data [on meditation] but no one has been asking if there are any potential difficulties or adverse effects, and whether there are some practices that may be better or worse-suited [for] some people over others.

Colonel of Truth: The KFC Hoax and the Idiocy of Crowdfunding for Bullying Victims - The Daily Beast

Who in their right mind, with all of the underfunded causes in desperate need of financing, would look at a list of online donations totaling more than $130,000 and think to themselves, “Well, clearly this is a cause that needs another twenty bucks”?

Losing Weight May Require some Serious Fun – NY Times

Those women who’d been formally exercising reported feeling more fatigued and grumpy than the other women, although the two groups’ estimates of mileage and calories burned were almost identical. . . The women in the exercise group consumed significantly more calories from these sweets than the women who’d thought that they were walking for pleasure.

Masters of Love – The Atlantic

If you look at what drives the deterioration of many relationships it’s often a breakdown of kindness

I Don’t Wanna Be Right – The New Yorker

Persistently false beliefs stem from issues closely tied to our conception of self

Colouring Books: The New Anti-Stress Activity – The Telegraph

French women have taken en masse to colouring books, using what was long an activity for small children to reduce stress and ease their neuroses.

1 Comment
Jun 24, 2014
Samantha Angela
2 Comments

June Fests

June is my favourite month in Windsor-Essex. So many festivals, so little time! Art in the Park, Strawberry Fest, Art of Eating, Carrousel of the Nations, Summer Fest, Detroit River Fireworks. It’s a busy month.

After being away for the month of June last year for yoga teacher training it was nice to be available to take part this year in all the festivals that are happening.

Art in the Park

At the beginning of the month I went with my girlfriends, sister, and niece to Art in the Park where we browsed Willistead Park for art and crafts and handmade things like artisan soap.

Art
Photo from The Windsor Star

Carrousel of the Nations

I spent the better part of this past weekend at the Carrousel of the Nations which I make a point to visit every year. Since I missed it last year I was extra excited to get my fix of international delicacies.

The Carrousel is a festival of multi-cultural food and entertainment hosted across the city by the respective cultural centres that participate. We managed to visit the German, Caribbean, Greek and Polish Carrousels this weekend.

The Greek Caroussel is one of my favourites because it’s busy, open late, and the food is awesome.

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Grilling at the Greek

Having already filled up on schnitzel and Jamaican patties, I forwent my usual Greek gyro and went straight for dessert. Loukoumades (or honey balls). They were even better than I remembered.

Caroussel 2011 (16)

Volunteer dishes out Honey Balls

The Polish always throw a fantastic party so we couldn’t miss it. In fact, we visited the Polish Carrousel twice. Sausage, pierogies, and cabbage rolls. Yes, please! Not to mention the fact that it tends to be where our friends congregate, so it is a must.

DJ at Caribbean Caroussel
Caribbean Caroussel DJ – Photo from Carrousel of the Nations

FIREWORKS!

And last but not least, there is always the Detroit River International Fireworks to look forward to– the biggest fireworks display in North America.
We were lucky that the rain held out for us this year and the show was awesome, as always.
We viewed it from a few kilometres away near the Ambassador Bridge, as we tend to do, but still had a great view without having to deal with the crowds.

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Not our view, we were farther away – Photo from Windsor Star, 2013

2 Comments
Jun 21, 2014
Samantha Angela
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Stew Recipes

My taste preferences hardly follow the seasons. Unless we’re talking summer tomatoes. Or sweet corn. Or blueberries.

So basically my taste buds only follow the season in August when my favourite Ontario produce is at its peak.

The rest of the year, anything is fair game. Like stew, which I have totally been digging lately:

Sudanese Peanut, Beef, and Spinach Stew that I hadn’t made since back in the fall. Something about the beef and peanut combination that makes this taste rich.

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This Chickpea and Potato Stew with Coconut Milk that I nearly forgot about but love deeply. My Indian cookbook was hidden from view and with it, this recipe.

Coconut Chickpeas

Pulled Pork because it’s kind of like and stew and do you really need a reason for pulled pork? The answer is no.

Pulled Pork

Ratatouille because it’s so easy.

Coconut Chickpea Stew

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Samantha Menzies
  • e-mail: samanthaamenzies@gmail.com
  • Samantha Menzies is an opinionated young firecracker who just happens to enjoy distracting web surfers with chronicles of her mildly entertaining daily pursuits.

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