30 May

Four Things

Be a Voter
I got my voter’s card for the upcoming Ontario provincial elections on Jun 12. If you live in Ontario, please be a voter. I don’t care who you choose to vote for, as long as you choose to vote because it really does matter.
I don’t go all Public Service Announcement on the blog often, but voting is one of those things that’s too important not to mention.

If you’re interested in which way you lean and want to learn more about the platforms, check out the vote compass. I, evidently, lean more economically left and socially liberal than any of the parties. Why am I not surprised?

vote compass results

Speaking of politics, I just finished watching Season 2 of House of Cards. DAYUM! It’s good. I’m not surprised people were binge watching it when it was first released. I’m kind of sad that I’ve finished all the episodes though.
Oh well, back to literature I guess.

House of Cards

Crispy Fried Capers are a game changer. They’re crispy, they’re salty, they’re versatile! What’s not to love? I made some this week as a topper for a fried fish recipe I modified from the LCBO’s Food & Drink magazine. They also made a good topping for scrambled eggs and for a vegetable pasta.
Oh and they’re easy. Heat about 2 Tbsp of canola oil in a pan on high, add 2 Tbsp capers that have been drained and patted dry, remove with a slotted spoon once they’re crispy (a few minutes). That’s it.

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I posted a couple of vinyasa yoga flows to my YouTube channel and hope to post videos a little more regularly. If there’s something you’d like to see on the channel (longer flows, more instruction, full classes, etc) let me know.

28 May

Pop Tarts

Some dude at the gym told me I look like I lost weight yesterday.

Interestingly enough, I have not. Since my friend/nutritionist Sarah gave me a dietary outline to help put on muscle I have gained exactly one pound and I’m sitting at 166.

Dude told me that my face looks thinner, so maybe I have leaned out a bit but I don’t really think so. Perhaps he was just looking for something to say?

I told him I was trying to put on some weight and he said jokingly (I think?) “You should eat pop-tarts” and now I’ve been craving pop tarts for two days. Thanks very much, meathead.

strawberry pop tartsI’m partial to strawberry.

Eating a pop-tart, for me, is a slippery slope.
Unnatural and processed crap aside, let’s be honest, pop-tarts are delicious.

I really need to try out a recipe for homemade pop-tarts now like these or these or these. I smell a weekend project, folks and it smells a lot like toaster pie.

Readers, have you made pop tarts before? Can you recommend a recipe?

26 May

Feels Like Summer

This weekend, to me, was the first weekend that we’ve had this year that really felt like summer. Part of it is the days getting longer, but mostly it’s the gorgeous—albeit a little hot for my liking—weather.

Matt was out of town for a couple of days so I had Friday night and all day Saturday to myself which, if we’re being honest, was kinda awesome.

I spent Friday night on a walk by the Detroit River with my friend Tina.

Detroit River

The riverfront is one of my favourite things about the city of Windsor.

I spent Saturday morning weightlifting and teaching yoga and the afternoon ripping out ugly bushes and stone from the landscaping. I’ve been wanting to get rid of them for a long time and it was one of those things that I can only pull off when the husband is away—that is, spontaneously doing a major house project, just because.

Here’s a photo of part of that project. I know a before picture would be nice, but I didn’t think too much before going to town on the overgrown shrubbery. Any suggestions of what I should plant here? It’s full shade.

landscaping

I made sure to take some time to just chill on Saturday afternoon by online shopping while sipping my first Greek Frappe coffee of the season.

Greek FrappeCheers to deliciousness!

Also because the husband was out of town I ate cookie dough for dinner on Saturday night. True fact.

And I might have had some cookie dough left over to actually bake cookies too.

Winning Chocolate Chiip CookiesLOVE this recipe

Overall, a pretty sweet weekend and that was only Friday and Saturday!

How was your weekend?

25 May

Links for a Sunday Morning

The Most Dangerous Myth of Modern Day Dieting: Your Weight Should Be "Ideal" – Weighty Matters

Let me say it quite plainly (and forgive me for my language) – as a means to set personal goals BMI is bullshit.

Should Women get Paid Menstrual Leave? – The Atlantic

Do these policies simply further the notion that women are weak, hormonally-addled creatures controlled by their uteri? Or do they encourage more equality by accommodating female workers’ biological demands, much as maternity leave does?

Top 3 Yin Yoga Poses for Runners – The StarPhoenix

To practice yin effectively, you must hold back from your most flexible point. . . yin is a perfect complement to running.

A Yoga High – Yoga Journal

Their effects may seem at odds, but marijuana and yoga can serve a similar purpose.

Why Trying to Be Perfect Won’t Help You Achieve Your Goals (And What Will) – Medium

Whenever you put in consistent work and learn from your mistakes, incredible progress is the result.

23 May

Yoga Centric Day

Surrender to the Moment

Today was a yoga-centric day. I started it off my rolling out of bed early (it’s getting so much easier with the long days!) to get in a 6:30am Moksha Flow yoga practice before work.

Though fully exhausted and sweated out I, apparently, hadn’t had enough because I squeezed in a Vinyasa yoga practice this evening at Breathe studio with Laurel Hicks who happens to be my Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training (PYTT) instructor.

Part of my requirements for PYTT is to observe 6 hours of Laurel teaching, and I did part of that tonight as well. Right after participating in her class I observed her teach a group of about 15 women in varying stages of their pregnancy with varying experiences with yoga.

This was my last class that I had to observe. While I feel like I’m picking up on the techniques and soaking in some info, I tend to find observation boring. I’d much rather participate and learn experientially than by watching. But, ya gotta do what ya gotta do (and, let’s be honest, I probably wouldn’t have made it through a 3rd class of the day).

I’m pushing hard to prevent my practice from slipping away as I get busier with teaching classes. It’s pretty common for yoga teachers to do yoga less often because they’re too busy teaching and I’m apparently no different.

I tend to reserve evenings for weightlifting so carving out time in the morning for yoga helps a lot. I’ve been pretty successful at getting in about 2 classes a week for the last couple of months and I’m pretty proud of myself for it.

How do you manage to make time for the things in life that are important to you?

21 May

Refocus

Me and Bagigis
Gratuitous picture of me and my dog

I’m feeling the need to blog a little bit more. . . if I can manage to find the time.

I always seem to put off blogging until I have something to say that is really important to me and when that happens I can’t find the time to sit down and come up with a thoughtful, relevant piece of writing so I just don’t do it.

So I think I’ll try to focus more on short posts about my current interests and brief reflections on interesting things I’ve read or done.

If there is something that you really like reading about or are interested in learning more about (weight lifting, yoga, baking, healthy recipes, my life in general, travel) comment here or send me an e-mail so I can make sure to incorporate these things into my blog.

19 May

Links for a Holiday Morning

America Dumbs Down – Maclean’s

The U.S. is being overrun by a wave of anti-science, anti-intellectual thinking. Has the most powerful nation on Earth lost its mind?

What if Famous Paintings were Photoshopped to Look Like Fashion Models? – Takepart

Throughout art history, painters from Titian to Rubens to Gauguin found beauty in the bodies of women who would never fit into a size 0. But what would these famous works of art look like were they to conform to today’s photoshopped standards of beauty?

How Extreme Isolation Warps the Mind – BBC

Loneliness also interferes with a whole range of everyday functioning, such as sleep patterns, attention and logical and verbal reasoning. . . social isolation unleashes an extreme immune response – a cascade of stress hormones and inflammation.

RD Rob Lazzinnaro Describes His Week of Feeding Himself on $1.75/dayWeighty Matters

My energy levels were low (I definitely didn’t follow my typical exercise regime), I struggled to mentally focus at work, my mood was at times depressive, I was constantly preoccupied with hunger, and it was only five bloody days!

More women should give birth at home, advice suggests – The Guardian

Midwives should advise mothers-to-be who already have at least one child and whose latest pregnancy appears straightforward to opt for a midwifery-led unit (MLU) or a home birth when deciding where to have their baby, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is urging.

Most People Have No Idea How to Manage Money – The Atlantic

Financial ignorance is widespread even as the world has changed in ways that make such ignorance more dangerous than ever before.

07 May

Mustard Sole with Lentils

I’ve made lots of recipes from the Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook since my friend bought it for me last summer like Ginger Biscuits and Classic Custard Creams and Saxe-Cobourg Soup.

Everything has been awesome, truly. I find that quite impressive from a cookbook loosely based off a television show which I figured would be more of a novelty than a kitchen staple.

It’s likely because the recipes all have liberal amounts of fat in them, particularly in the form of cream and butter. You can’t go wrong with butter.

This recipe follows that same theme. The “mustard sauce” would be more aptly named “mustard butter” and the original recipe called for the fish filets to be fried in 1/4 cup of butter.

I’ve been incorporating more fat into my diet to support hormone function, muscle growth, and ease sugar cravings, so I certainly don’t fear the butter. Plus it adds cholesterol to this dish which helps to increase testosterone production (so I can get jacked, natch).

When I originally saw the recipe in the book (titled Daisy’s Mustard Salmon with Lentils since the original recipe used salmon instead of the sole that I used here) I didn’t think it sounded too appetizing but I like lentils, I like fish, and I like mustard so I thought I’d give it a shot.

I was pleasantly surprised. The whole thing manages to taste both decadent and light (it makes sense when you eat it, trust me). I modified by baking the fish instead of frying (it saves time and butter) and the dish still managed to be fantastic.

I’ve made it a few times since and it’s probably one of my favourite dishes right now, so I had to share it with you. If you try it, let me know what you think!

Mustard Sole with Lentils from Downton Abbey Cookbook  - SamanthaMenzies.com

Mustard Sole with Lentils

Mustard Sauce

1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
2 T chopped chives
1 T Dijon mustard
2 t fresh lemon juice
1 t sugar
2 t kosher salt
1 t ground black pepper

Lentils

1 c green lentils
2 large carrots
2 c water
2 c vegetable broth
2 t fresh lemon juice

Sole

6 filets of sole
1 t salt
1/2 t ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400*F. Place the sole in a casserole dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside while the oven preheats and you prepare your lentils and mustard sauce.

To make the lentils: In a heavy saucepan over high heat, bring lentils, carrots, water, and broth to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 25-30minutes or until the lentils are tender. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 5-7 minutes. Drain the lentils and reserve 1 cup of liquid.

While the lentils are cooking and the oven is preheating, make the mustard sauce. In a small bowl thoroughly mix together the mustard sauce ingredients and set aside. (A mini food processor also works well here to get the butter a little more whipped)

Dot each seasoned sole filet with a bit of the mustard sauce and place in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting the tines of a fork into the thickest part of the fish then remove and place the tines on your bottom lip. If it feels just barely warm to the touch, the fish is done.

Mix the remaining mustard mixture into the lentils along with the reserved cooking liquid until the butter is thoroughly melted in.

To serve: place the lentils in a shallow bowl and top with a filet of sole.

Mustard Sole with Lentils from Downton Abbey Cookbook - SamanthaMenzies.com

29 Apr

5/3/1 Cycle 16 and 17

Cycle 15 of 5/3/1 was empowering. Energizing. Exciting.

Read more about how it works here: 5/3/1 for Women and 5/3/1 How To

When I calculated my loads for cycle 16 I knew it was going to be too much of a struggle for me to reach them, given that I barely made my lifts in cycle 15. So I repeated cycle 15 instead of progressing which was smart.

Cycle 16 Main Lifts

Deadlift: 265lb for 2 reps

Push Press: 135lb for 1 rep

Squats: 250lb for 2 reps

Bench Press: 165lb for 1 rep

Aside from an extra rep in deadlifts I didn’t make any progress. I should have taken that into consideration when I looked at what I was supposed to lift in cycle 17. Okay, I did, but I ignored it and tried to push on which was not smart.

Here I am now in the middle of my third week of cycle 17 (that’s my one rep max week so I haven’t even finished the cycle) and coming off a deadlift day shitty enough to bum me out. I missed a 275lb lift and then out of stress or confusion or weakness I missed a 265lb lift too.

It’s funny that a mere 8 weeks ago I was ecstatic with the amount of weight I could lift and now that same amount feels like failure. I know full well that it takes a lot of time to build strength (it took me years to get to a body weight bench press, remember?) but there’s always that hint of disappointment when my progress stagnates.

I guess for cycle 18 I’m going to take a step back, er, maybe two. I need to build up my strength and lightening up on the amount of weight I lift is a good way to do it. Mentally I’ll need to develop a  more yogic approach with appreciation for what my body can do right now rather than disappointment with what it can’t.

I also have to get back on track with my diet. If you recall my nutritionist/friend Sarah gave me a dietary outline to follow so I would have energy to weightlift and so I could put on mass. Aside from the calorie count I’ve been mostly neglecting the meal plan for the last two weeks and that could have very well  be contributing to my poor performance. When I was following her plan to a T was when I had my best lifts so there’s definitely something to it.

18 Apr

Tea and Cookies

Happy Good Friday! Cheers to a good long weekend.

I started my Good Friday out with breakfast and a delicious cuppa. I had put in an order for some teas from my sister who picks them up for me from Adagio Teas when she’s in Naperville IL. I asked for this Cream Tea on a whim and it’s phenomenal.

I tried it with sugar and cream (which I usually prefer to leave out of my tea) and it’s like dessert in a cup. I suspect it won’t last me as long as I thought it would.

Cream TeaCream Tea

She also picked up some Earl Grey Moonlight black tea and Jasmine Yin Hao green tea for me too. I think I have been crowding out daily tea with increased coffee consumption but frankly I’ve been missing a good cup of tea, yaknowwhatImean?

Vicki also came back with some surprises for me. Knowing full well that I’m a Scandiphile, she took advantage of a Swedish shop to buy me some really cool baking related gifts. I got pearl sugar (which I have been forgoing in all of my Great Scandinavian Baking Book recipes), a Dala horse cookie cutter, and a claddagh cookie stamp.

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I tried the cookie stamp twice. The first time, with a rye cookie recipe, it didn’t worked all that great. The stamp just faded into the cookie after it baked leaving me unimpressed with the little reward for the amount of effort I put in.

Today I tried it with a very crumbly shortbread made with lots of flour (recipe here), pressing balls of the dough tightly into the stamp. After baking, I was happy to see that the stamp held up.

Cookie stamp - this cookie was the best oneThis cookie turned out the prettiest

. . . but some of them cracked and looked sorta crappy (which defeats the purpose of stamping them to begin with, I suppose).

DSCF5527

Oh well, they’re certain to be tasty with my cream tea.

Cheers!