05 Aug

Metro Detroit Bakery Tour

On Monday Matt and I took advantage of the Civic Holiday to eat cookies in America.

Wait, let me backtrack.

I had expressed an interest to Matt in visiting every single one of these 13 Sweetest Bakeries in America, of which we had visited only one. Matt suggested we visit bakeries in the Detroit area. I agreed.

I printed off a bunch of maps and a list of over 10 different bakeries including bread bakers, cupcake shops, café/bakeries, and pie places. We were well on our way to diabetes.

Not surprisingly, we made it only to 4 of the 10 select bakeries.

Halfway through our second bakery (Pinwheel) Matt was hardly able to eat another bite of the Oatmeal Cream Pie I ordered. He told me he was throwing in the towel. I told him I was finishing the Oatmeal Cream Pie.

In the end, we had a fun day and though all of the things I ate were good, none of them wowed me.

Here’s my recap of each of the four bakeries we visited.

Avalon International Breads

422 W Willis St, Detroit, MI
(313) 832-0008

The servers were slow and confused. The Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie was mediocre (I’ve made much better CCC’s on more than one occasion). The Baguette was nothing to write home about. (I’ve made better baguettes too). Jan’s Magic Bar was delicious with a cookie crust and filling of condensed milk + chocolate + coconut but very sweet.

Final Verdict: Fun, funky atmosphere but I don’t think I’m cool enough to hang out here with all the hipsters and vegans. Or maybe I’m too cool. I respect the fact that the bakery is organic and was one of the pioneer businesses in a slowly gentrifying area of midtown Detroit, but, yeah, I’m unimpressed. And this wasn’t my first time unimpressed by their stuff.

Avalon International (6)Avalon International (2)Avalon International (5)Jan's Magic BarSea Salt Chocolate Chip CookieAvalon International (9)

Pinwheel

220 W Nine Mile Road, Ferndale, MI
(248) 398-8018

Good coffee. Should I lead with that? I guess that’s fair since the place is more coffee shop than bakery. Actually it had two business names (Pinwheel and Red Hook) which was very confusing.

Matt only wanted one thing but I ordered two. The Oatmeal Cream Pie was fantastic (like Little Debbie’s but so much better). The Snickerdoodle was just the right snickerdoodle texture and crumbliness and great for dunking in their coffee (did I mention the coffee?). So it was good for a snickerdoodle, but I forgot that I’m not a huge fan of snickerdoodles. It’s the name, it’s so damn cute it gets me every time.

Verdict: Coffee + Oatmeal Cream Pie = happiness. Must return the next time I find myself in Ferndale which is, typically, never.

Pinwheel (5)Pinwheel (7)Oatmeal Cream PieSnickerdoodle

Achatz Pie Company

1063 E Long Lake Rd, Troy, MI
(248) 457-1372

Fuck yeah, pie! I like pie almost as much as cookies so this place was a must. I was “worried” (read: secretly hoping) that we would have to buy a whole pie but luckily (unluckily?) they sold pies by the piece. There were samples of classic Apple Pie which was good but a little sweeter than I’m used to so we opted for the Michigan Four Berry Pie. The crust was good and flaky, the filling was a good mix of sweet and tart and the whole thing had a nice crumb topping.

Final Verdict: Nice place, good pie. I left happy.

Achatz (5)Achatz (1)Michigan Four Berry PieAchatz (7)Achatz (3)Achatz (6)

Ackroyd’s Scottish Bakery

25566 5 Mile Rd, Redford Charter Township, MI
(313) 532-1181

We dodged 457 pot holes to get here, but we made it. We needed something savoury at this point and Ackroyd’s was the only place to get it. Meat pies, meat pasties, meat tarts. Lots of meat and flaky dough can’t be wrong, right? We had to take our pies to go and heat them up at home but I snagged some Shortbread for the road. And Hobnobs.
We waited until the next day to eat our Meat Pie and Beef Pasty with abandon. The meat pie was really well seasoned but could have used more meat. The pasty was my favourite. It was like a samosa with beef and a flakier crust (that means, delicious).

Verdict: I ordered 4 shortbread and got 5. I paid $4.50 for a $6 jar of Lyle’s Golden Syrup. This place was winning before I tried anything at all. The fact that I wanted to recreate those meat pies and pasties after tasting them means that Ackroyd’s had my favourite baked goods on our tour. We saved the best for last I guess!

Ackroyd's (4)Ackroyd's (2)ShortbreadDSCF5974DSCF5975

03 Aug

Links for a Sunday Morning

The Health Benefits of Trees – The Atlantic

It is becoming increasingly clear that trees help people live longer, healthier, happier lives—to the tune of $6.8 billion in averted health costs annually in the U.S., according to research published this week. And we’re only beginning to understand the nature and magnitude of their tree-benevolence.

Mothers teach babies their own fears via odor – U of M Health

Research findings in animals may help explain a phenomenon that has puzzled mental health experts for generations: how a mother’s traumatic experience can affect her children in profound ways, even when it happened long before they were born.

Rethinking dining value: Eating at restaurants shouldn’t be only about volume – Washington Post

Why is everyone obsessed with a good deal, instead of just a good meal, when dining out?

Why Yoga Could Help you Thrive at Work – NY Post

Practicing physical yoga helps you shift your way of thinking over time.The effect is more gradual. Once you do yoga, things start to slow down. You start to see things that before were just one big ball of stress.

You Would Rather Endure Electric Shocks Than Sit Alone With Your Thoughts, Study Finds – Time

In 11 studies, we found that participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think, that they enjoyed doing mundane external activities much more, and that many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts. Most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is negative.

Running 5 Minutes a Day Has Long-Lasting Benefits – NY Times

Runners’ risk of dying from any cause was 30 percent lower than that for the nonrunners . . As a group, runners gained about three extra years of life compared with those adults who never ran. Remarkably, these benefits were about the same no matter how much or little people ran.

01 Aug

August Challenges

Tomorrow is August 1st which means noticeably shorter days, phenomenal local produce, vacationing, and general summer laziness.

It also is the start of not one but two challenges in which I am participating.

Relaxation Challenge

The first one is a Relaxation Challenge (an oxymoron of sorts, no?) hosted by Breathe Pilates & Fitness here in Windsor. The challenge is to meditate for at least 15 minutes per day for every day of August. I’m looking forward to this because meditation is one of those things for which I need to force myself to make time. And I often don’t.

It’s so beneficial to finding calmness and relieving stress. Meditation actually changes your brain activity and teaches you how to suppress the stress responses in your body so that you can relax. It’s a phenomenal thing and totally simple.

meditation

Simple, but not easy. Hence the ‘challenge’.

So I’ll be dedicating myself to 15-20minutes per day for every day of the month (mostly at home, but will try to pop into the guided meditations at the studio when I have a chance). I will document how I felt during the meditation and if anything came up. Feel free to join me!

#ShesGotLegs

Yes, another yoga selfie challenge.

This challenge works toward getting into Legs Behind the Head Pose (Dwi Pada Sirsasana).

The reason that I’m doing it is because the extent to which I can get into half of these poses is minimal and I’d like to show that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. For #BackbendMadness I, for the most part, didn’t have a problem. I have a pretty strong backbend practice so with a good warm-up most of the poses were accessible. These poses however. . .

She's Got Legs

. . . not so much

So my goal is not to show the perfect pose but how every pose can be modified for every level of ability and still get the same benefits.

My goal is also to show that it doesn’t matter what your body’s limitations are because awareness of bodily limitations is what is more important than the limitations themselves.

So here comes August and here goes nothing.

29 Jul

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.

26 Jul

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.

26 Jul

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!

18 Jul

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.”

13 Jul

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.

11 Jul

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.

 

 

 

02 Jul

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?