28 Apr

From this to that:

2 years after buying our house, Matt and I finally painted the third bedroom tonight.

We both decided on that the room should be a yellow colour and have blue as an accent colour, but I let him pick the final colour for the room.

I was hoping for something a bit more mellow. In the end he chose a colour that I would call juvenile but we’ll use the term cheerful instead.

It went from this:


To this:


To this:


In the end I was really happy with the way the colour looked. I especially love how well it compliments the brown of the floor, trim, and blinds. I will keep you updated as we finish decorating this storage room cum bedroom.

And speaking of changes, Bagigis hair went from this:Bagigis

to this:


She can see again! And she`s got little bows in her hair too.

Bikini Fitness:

I skipped my run today to come home and paint. Painting is not really a workout, but I`m so happy that it`s finally out of the way!

Last night I weightlifted and it felt fantastic. I was doing extra weights or reps for every exercise. I was so happy with myself!

Bikini Eating:

It is Food Blog Friday!

While the first coat of paint was drying, I whipped up this bean and kale risotto (a mix of barley and arborio rice because I was practically out of the rice).

This recipe came from Smitten Kitchen and was perfect since it used up all the things in my fridge and pantry that needed to go: 1/4 bottle of red wine, a bunch of kale on its last legs, and the very last bits of a box of rice.

Kale and Bean Barley Risotto

I love Deb’s photographs and well written posts on Smitten Kitchen. I want to make almost everything that I see on her blog but I find a lot of the recipes look too time consuming, or complicated, or things that I like to look at but probably wouldn’t eat.

This recipe was completely different: super healthy with whole grains, beans, and leafy greens, and very very quick to make (okay, it’s risotto, naturally there is going to be a lot of standing and stirring but it’s relatively quick).

I made a few adjustments to Deb’s recipe using red wine instead of white, mixing arborio rice and barley, using kale instead of escarole, and leaving out the cheese. It still came out fantastic!

So I give this recipe…

3 Spoons!


Bean and Kale Barley Risotto

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

5 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 t fresh thyme leaves
1 t dried oregano
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup pearled barley (7 ounces)
1/2 cup arborio rice
1 can of romano beans
3 cups chopped kale
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm to use in the risotto.

In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, thyme, and oregano and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 6 minutes. Add the barley and cook, stirring, for 1 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring until absorbed, about two minutes.

Add the warm stock about 1/2 cup at a time. Stir and wait until it is nearly absorbed before adding another 1/2 cup. When the risotto is al dente and creamy (about 35 minutes) then add the beans and escarole and let it wilt and then cook for an additional minute. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


Barley Risotto

Food Blog Friday recipes are ranked on the scale of 0-3 spoons

0 spoons – That was fucking horrendous
1 spoon  –  I doubt I’ll be making that again
2 spoons – I’ll probably make that again with some tweaks
3 spoons – That was perfect

27 Apr

Trying to Plan Meals

I set out a meal plan for myself yesterday and promised I’d check back and let you know if I stuck to it.

Breakfast: Poached Egg on Ciabatta Toast with Dijon mustard and mixed greens. Check.

Morning Lunch: Strawberry Banana Soy Milk Smoothie. Check.

Afternoon Lunch: Leftover Cabbage and Barley Soup. Check.

Snack: Dates and Almonds. Check.
Dinner: West African Spinach with Groundnuts. Check. (Unfortunately, this recipe didn’t taste as good as it looks)

Dessert: Sliver of Coconut Cake. Definitely! I ate it while watching Top Chef Canada with Matt.

Besides the dishes that I had planned out, I also ate 6 Hershey’s Kisses from my Easter Candy stash and another piece of homemade ciabatta with Gudbrandsdalost (the delicious brown cheese I brought back from Norway)

Ballparking the coconut cake at around 250 calories my intake for the day was:

1825 cal: 39% fat/48% carbs/13% protein

I like the idea of planning my meals a day in advance instead of counting my calories after the day is done. It gives me a good indication of how much I’m going to be eating rather than how much I already ate. I’ve had occasions where I’ve tallied up my calories at the end of the day and thought “WHAT?!?! I ate THAT much?!” No Bueno.

Now I’m toying with the idea of planning out my next day’s meals daily but it’s a big commitment and it doesn’t leave wiggle room in case my cravings change.  So maybe I will plan my meals out in advance and then decide my snacks the next day. Thoughts? Do you plan your meals in advance? How does it work out for you?

Bikini Fitness:

I headed to the Downtown Yoga Studio last night for an awesome Asthanga Yoga class. It was a really powerful class and I was sweating like crazy. I wore my vibrams and they were the talk of the class. I’m glad I wore them since I was sweating so much I would have otherwise just slipped right off my mat.

The serenity that came with the practice was very quickly overshadowed by the parking ticket I found on my car window. I better blogger would, at this point, post a picture of their windshield with the ticket and maybe a ‘selfie’ of them with a posed angry face.  But I was actually angry and had no time for such nonsense so I did the more rational thing: sped home (in the hopes of not getting a speeding ticket on top of the parking ticket), yelled about it to Matt, and then randomly started dusting my filthy (read: not so filthy) bedroom furniture. I’m still pissed about that ticket.

I cooled down a bit in time for an impromptu 5K nature walk with my friend Tina. Okay, so it wasn’t really a nature walk—just a walk along the nearby wooded trails—but we did see a deer and a bat, so that counts for something right?

25 Apr

Rustic Cabbage and Barley Soup with Apple

It’s been a few weeks since I made a soup. With Matt being sick with some type of virus or another he requested soup. I was happy to oblige considering the huge head of cabbage in the fridge and the fact that Matt considers a can of “sirloin burger” chunky soup to provide adequate fluids and nutrition to a sick body. Seriously? Sirloin Burger? Dude, no.

Since I missed out on grocery shopping over the weekend I headed to Freshco after work today and came out with a cart full of produce… a week’s worth of food for only $40. Per-fect.

So I put together this really hearty and delicious cabbage soup for Matt.

Rustic Cabbage and Barley Soup with Apple

(makes ~8 cups)

1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery hearts and leaves
1 large russett potato, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
2 small apples peeled and chopped
2 T oil
1/4 c flour
10 cups water
1 beef bouillon cube
1 T dried parsley
4 c coarsely shredded cabbage
1/4 c uncooked barley
1 T paprika
2 bay leaves
2 T fresh thyme leaves
1/4 c tomato paste
1/4 t fennel seeds
Salt & pepper to taste (~a tablespoon of each)

In a large pot heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, celery, potato, carrot and apple and sauté until soft.
Stir in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes
Then add the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer covered for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour.
Remove bay leaves.

By the time I was done making this I had eaten 6 Hershey’s Kisses, some brown cheese (I smuggled from Norway) with homemade ciabatta that I baked last night,


and a huge ass carrot that I had intended for the soup. I wasn’t even hungry.

…but leftover soup makes the best lunches so I know what I’ll be having all week!

I did find room for this though:

Best Cake You'll Ever EatBest Cake You'll Ever Eat

Look familiar?

Best Cake You'll Ever Eat

That’s the coconut cake that my sister Victoria made for my birthday

Best Cake You'll Ever Eat

It’s the best cake I’ve ever eaten in my life. Honestly, it’s amazing. It’s some sort of heavenly combination of a million and a half layers of coconut cake separated by some insanely delicious frosting. I really can’t say enough about the amazingness that is this cake.

I gave a slice to Matt and he loved it, of course. His criticism was that it had too many layers. I’ve never heard of too many layers on a cake. That’s blasphemy! Clearly his sickness has made him delusional.

Naturally it wasn’t my plan to eat coconut cake for dinner, so I need to be proactive and prevent myself from falling into that pit again tomorrow, and Wednesday, and Thursday, etc, etc, etc, until the cake is gone. I decided to plan out my meals in advance for tomorrow so that this doesn’t happen again. I’ll check back with you tomorrow to let you know if I actually ate what I list here:

Say it/Eat it

Breakfast: Poached Egg on Ciabatta Toast with Dijon mustard and mixed greens.
Morning Lunch: Strawberry Banana Smoothie
Afternoon Lunch: Leftover Cabbage Soup
Snack: Dates and Almonds
Dinner: West African Spinach with Groundnuts
Dessert: Sliver of Coconut Cake.

Yeah, I eat lunch twice. It’s the highlight of my work day, not gonna lie.

24 Apr

Easter Eater

Happy Easter!!

The Easter Bunny delivered Matt into my bed at about 4:30 this morning after a few days away for a track meet in Tennessee. It was a great Easter gift that could have been better if he hadn’t come home sick 🙁

Unfortunately for him we had to drag our butts out of bed earlier than he would have wanted, considering his illness and lack of sleep. The silver lining though was food and family.

We were booked back to back with a brunch with my family at 10:00 and a lunch with Matt’s family at 12:00. I planned my outfit strategically and wore loose pants and a baggy shirt in anticipation of the impending food baby (I could write at length about how to dress for occasions involving the consumption of copious amounts of food, but that’s another post for another day).

Easter 2011 (9)

Bikini Eating:

We started out at Koolini on Tecumseh Rd for brunch. It dubs itself an “Italian Eatery” but I’d say it’s more modern cuisine with an Italian influence (Just because you put chicken parmesan and pasta on your menu, doesn’t mean you’re Italian). I do like the food there. Koolini usually has a nice spread of salads and hot food items at brunch. Not an overwhelmingly large selection, just a few quality and classic dishes.

Easter 2011 (13)

Spinach, Eggs Benedict, Hash Browns, Gnocchi, and Shrimp

Easter 2011 (14)

Fruit Salad & Three Mini Truffle Balls (White, Dark, and Milk Chocolate)

The family parted ways and Matt and I headed to The Blue Danube on Ottawa St for lunch with his family. The Blue Danube is Hungarian cuisine and it seems pretty authentic (although I’m not Hungarian, have never been to Hungary, and have only ever eaten Hungarian food at the Blue Danube so I’m clearly not the authority on its authenticity).

Easter 2011 (24)

Cabbage Rolls and dumplings

I was pretty full by this point so I took half of one of Matt’s cabbage rolls and a few dumplings. Delicious.

Bikini Fitness:

This afternoon the weather was gorgeous again so I decided to go for a run. It wasn’t much of an option though. I had it on my Training Schedule and the gym was closed today for Easter. I had 14 miles scheduled but I ended up lowballing the miles and when I checked my mileage on gmap-pedometer when I got home, it turns out that I only ran 13. LOL “Only”

Luckily I planned my route so I could stop at my dad’s house at the 7 mile mark to use the bathroom, get a drink, and put a bandage on a nasty toe blister. The run actually felt good (maybe because I was so well fuelled!) and I could have pushed through another mile, but I’m happy with the 13 miles I ran (I matched my current PDR!). I squeaked it out in 2:14


So I was running just over 10 minute miles or 5.8mph*

*Sidebar: I don’t have a fancy Garmin that shows how far I went. You’ll just have to take my word for it that I actually ran and didn’t just time myself eating mini eggs for 2 hours.

It was one of those runs when you felt great doing it and then when you stop moving suddenly every muscle in your body stops working. I just tried to get out of my chair to grab my SD card right now and had a hell of a time walking the 4 feet to go get it. That’s the sign of a good run, right there.

Now excuse me there’s a Lindt chocolate bunny (or 4) calling my name. Don’t judge. Chocolate is an acceptable dinner on Easter Sunday. Jesus says so.

23 Apr

Just one of those days

Today was a beautiful day in Windsor. It was about 70*F, dry, and the sun was shining all day long. Much improved over last night’s torrential thunderstorm.

I swear lightning struck in my backyard in the middle of the night. I woke up to thunder that roared so loud that I felt the house shaking and could actually hear glasses rattling in my cupboard. I had a hell of a time falling back to sleep after that, being that I was terrified a lightning-struck tree would collapse onto my roof.

Granted, my dreams are pretty vivid and the whole house-shaking business could have all been part of a bizarre dream I had that my friend built a Tranformer that could essentially transport you to wherever you wanted to go… but that’s neither here nor there.

After waking up this morning and spending a brief moment pondering whether the practicality of installing an enormous lightning rod on my house would outweigh it’s unsightliness, I headed back downtown Windsor to do a yoga class.

Later in the afternoon I planned to go for a long run but I was lazy it was windy so I decided to take Bagigis for a long walk instead.

It felt like the entire neighbourhood was outside today. Weather like today’s has that kind of effect. The men with midlife crises bring out their Harleys and leather chaps, the muscular douchebags run shirtless even though they’re not breaking a sweat, and the teenage girls put on their pink velour track pants and tank tops and go out to get “exercise” (ie. saunter down the sidewalk while texting and tanning).

I guess I can’t judge everyone. I’m the kind of loser who publicly struts to her iPod and lip syncs along.

22 Apr

Productive Holiday

It isn’t very often that Matt is away from home and even though I miss him while he’s gone I’m so much more productive when he’s away.

Today I managed to do a total kitchen overhaul.

First, I cleaned the inside of the fridge from top to bottom and tossed out all the empty condiment bottles.

Then, I emptied all my cabinets and pantries and cleaned the insides.

Then I reorganized everything in a way that makes more sense for my cooking.

Then, washed all the dirt and doggie paw prints off the cabinet doors.

Then, I reorganized by plate rack-cum-cookbook shelf

And then, I cleaned the floors.

And 6 hours later the kitchen was completely cleaned and reorganized.


Bikini Eating:

I ended my vegan Lent a tad early and went a bit crazy today.

My dad brought home a school of fish and I helped my Nonna fry it up for our Good Friday fish fry.

Yum smelt!


I can’t tell you how many of these little fishies I ate while frying them. I generously sprinkled them in sea salt and crunched away at the hot ones right out of the pot as I started frying up a new batch.


Last year we made baccalà together and this year, smelt.The only other fish she’s willing to eat is fish and chips. Maybe next year?

Oh, and I also at a lot of chocolate chip cookies today as I cleaned the kitchen. Okay, so I didn’t bake ALL of them for Matt.

Bikini Fitness:

Last night I did my hill training at the gym and then decided to head downtown Windsor to take a hot yoga class at the Downtown Yoga Studio in the Capitol Theatre.

downtown yogaCapitol Theatre

The only hot yoga classes that I’ve ever taken before were Bikram (in a room where the yogis were packed like sardines and the body heat was more intense than the furnace) and Moksha. So the fact that this class was only heated with space heaters was a bit disappointing and not much different from practicing with my friend Sarah in front of her gas fireplace. The class was pretty intense though, don’t get me wrong, and I really enjoyed it. I wasn’t expecting it to be excruciatingly hot, but I was kinda hoping it would be.

I bought a one week pass to the studio so hopefully I’ll get out to a few more classes this week.

This morning, as part of my super productive day, I woke up extra early to weight lift. Well, 7:30 am. I would call that extra early for a holiday.


(Training Schedule)

Bikini Confidence:

I’m loving my hair today. I walked into the locker room at the gym after my workout and two women were talking. One stopped in the middle of talking, looked at me and said, “You have great hair!” It made me feel awesome.

I need to start complimenting people more often.

20 Apr

Winning Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie

Tomorrow morning Matt is heading out to Tennessee (UTK) to coach his throwing team in a Track and Field meet. (Any Tennesseans in the house?)

Despite the fact that I’m jealous that he’ll be enjoying the Smoky Mountains and the 80*F weather I still decided to bake him some extra chewy, extra delicious chocolate chip cookies to take on the very long drive down south.

I’ve been dying to make the recipe for Erika’s Chunky Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies that the Top Chef Just Desserts judges raved about in episode 3.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (3)

And they’re worth raving about. I think this is my new Go-To Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe.

The recipe on the Bravo website isn’t very specific, so here’s my version:

Chocolate Chip Cookies (6)

Chunky Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookie

(makes 18-24 depending on how much cookie dough you eat)

  • ¾ c sugar
  • ¾ c dark brown sugar
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ lb salted butter, room temperature
  • 2 ½ c AP flour
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 1 ½ c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c chopped hazelnuts

If you don’t own a mixer: melt the butter and allow to cool. Beat the butter and sugars together with a whisk . Whisk in the vanilla, eggs (one at a time), and the baking soda.

If you do own a mixer: use room temperature butter and beat it in the mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until smooth. Add the sugars and cream them together with the butter, running the mixer for 2-3 minutes at medium speed. Beat in the vanilla, eggs (one at a time), and the baking soda.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the baking powder and flour (Note: For the most accurate measurement of the flour, lightly spoon it from the container into the measuring cup and level off the flour even with the top edge of the measuring cup using the back of a knife. Don’t use the measuring cup to scoop the flour out of the container.)

Mix till incorporated – the dough will be wet and sticky—then add the hazelnuts and chocolate chips just until mixed.

Scoop cookie dough and form into a ball about the size of a golf ball. Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet and press down on the balls slightly with your fingers.

Bake at 350*F for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. The cookies should still be very soft and look underbaked. Let them cool on a rack before eating.

Chocolate Chip CookiesChocolate Chip Cookies (4)Chocolate Chip Cookies (5)

Bikini Eating:

Nothing but leftovers today. I’m slowly eating my way through the fridge.

1618 cal: 44% fat/ 47% carbs/ 9% protein

I made a soy latte AGAIN for breakfast today! I’m on a roll.

Bikini Fitness:

In spite of getting a blister the size of Tokyo on my baby toe that almost made we cop out early, I still finished 8 miles today (dreadmill. the weather was not in my favour). Hell yeah!

I think the combination of caffeine, a new music playlist, and all my training kept me going at lightning speed (…Because lightning travels at 6.2 miles per hour right? No? Excuse me, it’s been a while since I’ve taken a science class.)

(Training Schedule)

Bikini Confidence:

My body is pretty damn awesome because I can run 8 miles and not even consider that a long run 🙂

19 Apr

Power Pieces

This afternoon at lunch I received this e-mail from Matt:

I burst out laughing in my office! This was by far the funniest thing I’ve seen all day.

In  keeping with the Top Chef theme, I decided to bake some Chunky Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies from Top Chef: Just Desserts that the judges were raving about. I made mine with hazelnuts instead of walnuts because that’s what I had on hand. They’re in the oven right now (what can I say, I like baking late at night) so I don’t have any pictures and I can’t tell you how they turned out. I can tell you that the cookie dough was delicious. So delicious that, in fact, I might be feeling a little sick.

So much for bikini eating. Oy.

Bikini Eating:

Today I didn’t do so bad. In spite of the fact that I ate leftover oat and lentil salad for breakfast, pecan crusted tofu for lunch, and more beans for dinner I still wound up light on the protein today (35g). Damn.

1627.6 cal: 40% fat/ 52% carbs/ 8% protein

That’s not including all the cookie dough I ate which could have easily been the equivalent of about 4 cookies. And that’s why I don’t bake cookies.

Dinner tonight was a skillet cabbage and bean dish that will be my food blog friday post for this week… stay tuned.

Beans and Cabbage

Bikini Fitness:

Today was my yoga day. I’m really digging Eoin Finn’s Blissology yoga podcasts. They’re not too strenuous like David Farmar or Bryan Kest. They’re just strenuous enough for what I’m looking for lately.

(Training Schedule)

Bikini Confidence:

In the wardrobe department I tried to go for a different look today with my flair:

Yeah, it’s a skinny tie. (It’s definitely not worn enough and has be relegated to the back of my closet. But I’ve brought it back!)

I’ll call it a power piece. Unlike a giant flower or a sequined tank top, it makes me feel sort of edgy and intense.

I’m channelling my inner Carrie Bradshaw:

18 Apr

Spring in my step

Any day that begins with a soy latte is a good day in my books. No wonder so many people go to Starbucks daily. I swear a latte puts a little extra spring in my step.

I have an espresso machine at home and I normally don’t make lattes for breakfast because I’m always in a rush in the AM, but today I really had a craving.

Espresso Maker

The espresso is courtesy of Matt’s relatives in Italy. They brought us some Sant’Eustachio coffee the last time they visited. It’s often touted as the best coffee in Italy. I think I’ve had better, to be honest, but maybe I’m just not brewing it right.

Bikini Eating:

Dinner tonight was pretty tasty. Last week I had made some Lebanese style lentils and rice and tonight I formed the leftovers into patties and shallow fried them for Matt and I. I ate mine with a bit of spicy dijon mustard and a side of curried kale chips. AWESOME.


Today’s total count was:

1875 cal: 48% fat/41% carbs/11% protein

Bikini Fitness:

On Sunday the weather was extremely windy, so I headed to the gym for my long run: 12 miles. Watching the movie Music & Lyrics helped to keep my mind occupied while I ran. Ah Hugh Grant *sigh*

Word to the wise, don’t eat the oat and lentil salad the day before a long run. Not fun for the bowels.

Today I lifted weights and then came home to do Jackie Warner’s 20 minute core routine.

Push Ups                                         4 sets: x15, x12, x10, x10
Squat w Barbell Shoulder Press         45lbs; 4 sets x10
Dumbbell Row with Tricep Kickback   15lb x 10; 15lb x 10; 20lb x 8; 25lb x 5
Decline Bench Press                         95lb x 10; 105lb x 8; 115lb x 8
Cable Upright Row in Sumo Squat      12 plates x 10; 14 plates x 8; 16 plates x 7
Incline Bicep Dumbbell Curls              25lb x 7; 25lb x 6; 25lb x 4
Leg Extensions (Machine)                  120lb x 8; 120lb x 7

(Training Schedule)

Later I walked Bagigis around the neighbourhood.


Bikini Confidence:

My body is pretty damn awesome today because I was able to get up to 8 reps at 115lbs on my decline bench press.

17 Apr

Pecan Crusted Tofu with Oat Salad

Matt and I watch a lot of Top Chef. A lot. We just finished watching Top Chef All Stars and right now we’re watching Top Chef Canada and Top Chef:Just Desserts (which we didn’t watch when it aired). Besides Planet Earth, Top Chef is pretty much the only thing we like watching together.

I recently discovered that Bravo has a bunch of recipes from the show on their website so now I have a whole new list of recipes to try out.

Last night we cooked a recipe from one of my favourite chefs: Carla Hall

The recipe was Pecan and Oat Crusted Tofu on an Oat and Lentil Salad. Seeing ‘oats’ come up twice in the recipe name pretty much sold me on the recipe, plus it’s vegan and sounds healthy.

Pecan&Oat Crusted TofuMatt putting the topping on the tofu cubes.

That recipe was a recipe for chefs, not home cooks. It was the kind of recipe that made you appreciate the concept of mise en place. No one (besides Martha Stewart and my brother-in-law) uses mise en place at home. There were so many components and each dish and I found myself doing the same things two or three times which could’ve been avoided if the recipe were better written or if I had all my components prepped. I’m going to stick with blaming the recipe.

Pecan&Oat Crusted Tofu

In the end, despite about 2 hours of work and overcooking the oats and lentils to oblivion, the recipe turned out really good. I would definitely make it again. I was thinking of leaving off the oat and pecan crust from the tofu, but that was the BEST part. Yum.

Luckily there’s lots of leftovers so I’ll be eating this all week long.

Pecan&Oat Crusted Tofu

Bikini Living Check In:

Bikini Eating:

I didn’t journal my food on Saturday but I’m back at it today. I’ve been spending too much time baking cookies and sweet bread which I indulged in yesterday.

Bikini Fitness:

Yesterday I did a short 55 minute yoga podcast from Eoin Finn. I fell asleep in savasana. Pure Bliss.

(Training Schedule)

Bikini Confidence:

This weekend I love my new hair cut. It’s been about 7 months since my last cut so my hair really needed it. It’s bouncy, I love it.


Before Haircut


After Haircut

And my flair is the awesome colour and detailing of this Esprit top. Sometimes I feel that the cut of it makes me look like an expectant mother, but today it made me feel pretty.