Oct 20, 2013
Samantha Angela
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Links for a Sunday Morning

10 Simple Ways To Eat Less Without Noticing - Summer Tomato

Your brain is easily fooled by shifts in perspective. It’s also more responsive to external cues like an empty plate, than internal cues like a full stomach. Understanding these influences can show you how to tilt them in your favor.

Michelle Obama’s Repeated Mistake – Dances with Fat

“The Biggest Loser,” is a show that’s exploits a very dangerous aspect of American life, the unhealthy ways in which we attempt to lose weight. Surely the First Lady had to know this.

Map: Six Decades of the Popular Girls’ Names, State-by-State – Jezebel

Baby naming generally follows a consistent cycle: A name springs up in some region of the U.S.—”Ashley” in the South, “Emily” in the Northeast—sweeps over the country, and falls out of favor nearly as quickly. The big exception to these baby booms and busts is “Jennifer”, which absolutely dominates America for a decade-and-a-half.

How Much Better is Standing Up than Sitting? – BBC News

As we had hoped, blood glucose levels fell back to normal levels after a meal far more quickly on the days when the volunteers stood than when they sat. There was also evidence, from the heart rate monitors that they were wearing, that by standing they were burning more calories.

Alcohol Education Is Not Rape Apology – The Atlantic

Men need this education just as much as women. Drunk young men are also at higher risk of violence, sexual and otherwise. Men also need to understand that having sex with an incapacitated woman is rape, pure and simple.

How Homestar Runner changed web series for the better - AV Club

The weirdos that populate Homestar’s world aren’t drawn from animated kids’ shows or even children’s books, but from another great American art form: the newspaper comic strip.

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Oct 13, 2013
Samantha Angela
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Links for a Sunday Morning

5 Surprising Yoga Cures - Prevention

Both the aerobic component of yoga as well as its meditative aspects relieve the symptoms of several major psychiatric disorders.

A Closer Look at Dr. Oz’s 15 Superfoods – Science Based Medicine

Oz’s latest list is a mix of both reasonable and silly dietary advice that repeatedly overstates the evidence, while ignoring the biggest determinant for obesity: calorie consumption.

Getting Rid of That Pesky Last 5 Pounds - GoKaleo via Huffington Post

Shifting your focus away from fat loss, and toward increasing lean mass, may be what your body needs in order to continue making progress.

Why are Hundreds of Harvard students studying Ancient Chinese Philosophy? – The Atlantic

The Chinese philosophers we read taught that the way to really change lives for the better is from a very mundane level, changing the way people experience and respond to the world

Five Thoughts on body Confidence on my 34th Birthday – Fit & Feminist

By the time women hit their 30s, they may have settled on a diet and exercise routine that works for them and. . . may be in long-term relationships that boost their confidence.

Childhood Friend Writes a Scathing Letter to Bridezilla – The Globe and Mail

The expense and the cost of the wedding is solely the responsibility of the bride, the groom and their families, and never the people who are attending.

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Oct 10, 2013
Samantha Angela

Four Things

I darkened my purple highlights. It was unintentional but I think the darker purple better suits my dark eyes and eyebrows. The light purple was fading out so I touched it up with this dye in purple when I probably should have used fuschia. That’s why I’m not a hair stylist.

Purple Highlights

I’m surprised how easy it has been to pick up yoga teaching work. I have three classes of my own at my gym and I am on substitute teacher lists for two other studios. All I had to do was ask. I guess yoga is recession-proof.

Downward Dog

It’s party time! I always like to keep busy with events but these next two months are going to be out. of. control. There’s Thanksgiving, three weddings (2 of which my husband is standing in), multiple birthday parties, a Hallowe’en party, my sister’s baby is due, we’re going on vacation, and we have family staying with us from Italy. Whew, that’s a lot! But I’m looking forward to the whirlwind of parties because it means spending time with some of my favourite people.

Me and Nonna

One event is this lovely lady’s 90th birthday party. That’s my Nonna.

I finally watched the new Wallace & Gromit short, A Matter of Loaf and Death. Claymation, British entertainment, and bread is a culmination of my favourite things, not to mention that I love all the other Wallace & Gromit movies to the point that I frequently find myself shouting “We forgot the crackers, Gromit!” for no reason or asking Matt, “How about a nice Wendsleydale?” when we’ve never had Wendsleydale in our lives.

Wallace & Gromit

. . . and speaking of Gromit, I really wish I could have been in the UK for Gromit Unleashed where giant Gromit sculptures took over the town of Bristol.

Gromit Unleashed

Oct 7, 2013
Samantha Angela

Run for the Cure 2013


I can’t believe this is already the 8th Run for the Cure that we’ve participated in.

Run for the Cure 2013 (3)
Just a part of this year’s team, icancervive

Our team, icancervive, is a group of our friends and family who come together to have a good time, raise money for breast cancer, and remember my mom, Hiyan Campagna, who passed away from the disease in August of 2006.

Run day is one of my favourite days of the year. I always look forward to it because it covers all the things I love: getting together with family, doing something active, eating (we always go out for breakfast after), and, of course, my late mom.

Run for the Cure 2013 (5)
Matt and I, post-run

Every year is the same.

We wake up early and meet at the Windsor riverfront about an hour before the start of the run.

We don our team t-shirts and buttons and try to keep warm as we wait for the race to begin (except this year when we tried to keep dry, but at least it was warm!) .

My dad and his friends begin their walk, crossing the starting line extra early so they can finish around the same time as the runners even though they still have to wait for all the other walkers on our team to come in before we go for breakfast.

Run for the Cure 2013 (2)

Me with my dad and Silvia, who crossed the finish not long after I did due to their early start.

We watch Sandi, our teammate, on stage with the breast cancer survivors as a living representation of the outcome of all our fundraising efforts.

Run for the Cure 2013 (6)
My sister Vicki, our team survivor & top funraiser Sandi, and I.

We do a really cheesy warm-up that involves more hip rolling than is necessary for a 5K run.

Run for the Cure 2013 (4)
No fetuses were harmed in the making of this photo

And then we take off.

Not long after the starting horn, my cousin Jessica is already blasting through the finish line and winning the race. Her athleticism is an anomaly in our family.

Run for the Cure 2013 (1)
That’s Jess in the middle

Usually we have an even number of runners and walkers but out of this year’s 23 participants only 3 of us ran: Jess, my friend Kyle, and I. I ran in about 25 minutes which wasn’t bad considering I took a few walking breaks but, then again, the course is about 500m short of 5K, which is a pretty significant amount.

After everyone crosses the finish line we head out for breakfast as our after party for more socializing.

Run for the Cure 2013 (7)
Waiting patiently for our breakfast

This year we have raised over $2800 this year and over the 8 years participating in the Run for the Cure we’ve accumulated nearly $25,000 in funds for breast cancer research. Not too shabby, folks.

For more information on where all that money goes, check out the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation website.

Thank you so much to everyone who came out to participate and everyone who donated to the cause. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event!


Past Runs for the Cure:

Run for the Cure 2010

Run for the Cure 2011

Run for the Cure 2012

Oct 5, 2013
Samantha Angela
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Links for a Sunday Morning

Why Scandinavian Prisons are Superior - The Atlantic

If you can’t tell whether you’re in a prison, can it be a prison?

And speaking of prison. . .

How Yoga is Helping Prisoners Stay Calm – BBC News

Yoga has made it easier for the prison staff to motivate the [prisoners] to change the behaviour that has brought them to prison in the first place.

Everything you need to know about Downton Abbey Fashion – Series 4 - Never Underdressed

Dresses fell far past the knee, in a sort of loose sack shape. ‘It’s like a uni-bosom that just goes on down. . .the clothes are sort of baggy really, it’s a cylindrical look that you’re getting.’

The Dangers of Going Gluten Free -Macleans

“All kind of questions are coming about for which we really don’t have good answers. Our problem is people going gluten-free without being properly counselled or checked out. It becomes problematic.”

And speaking of gluten. . .

Doctors Say Changes In Wheat Do Not Explain Rise Of Celiac Disease - NPR

Increase in celiac disease comes at a time when lots of other autoimmune diseases and allergies are on the rise, too.

The Mental Strain of Making Do with Less – NY Times

There is a paradox here: diets create mental conditions that make it hard to diet.

And speaking of mental strain . . .

How Intense Study May Harm Our Workouts – NY Times

Exercise simply feels harder when your brain is tired, so you quit earlier, although objectively, your muscles are still somewhat fresh.

You’re Not Fat - Dances with Fat

Being “not fat” is important in this society, so sometimes a woman will say “I’m so fat” so that someone else will say “You’re not fat” and she will be able to feel better about herself for a minute, or she’ll say “I’m so fat” because she knows that she is not fat by society’s standards and is reminding herself that she is “better” than fat people.

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Sep 25, 2013
Samantha Angela

5/3/1 for Women – Cycle 9 Recap

I just finished my 9th cycle of 5/3/1. That’s 36 weeks on the same programme. I’m still loving it.

5/3/1 focuses on increasing strength in the big muli-joint lifts (squats, deadlifts, bench press, and overhead press) and lets you vary the other exercises that you do in addition to these lifts (ie. your accessory lifts)

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

Main Lifts

You may recall that I had to cut way back on my loads because of all the strength that I lost during my 3 weeks of yoga teacher training. I had failed at moving the required weight so I had to take 2 steps back to rebuild.

For cycle 9 I was working on the same loads as I completed in cycle 5 back in May. Compared to May, I’ve improved marginally in terms of reps, which I’m really happy about.

Deadlift: 230lb for 4 reps

Push Press: 120lb for 5 reps

Squats: 220lb for 2 reps

Bench Press: 140lb for 1 reps


This cycle, I’m most proud of my push press, not only because it was a PR, but also because I was only a little scared and I wasn’t figuratively shitting my pants in terror of hoisting that much weight overhead. That’s progress.

Accessory Lifts

I focused on complexes and circuits that involved intervals or moving a little weight very quickly. This way I elevate my heart rate and a get a good sweat going in just 10-20 minutes.

I vary the accessory exercises every day and my favourites always include sprints. This cycle my favourite was:

Sprint 1km
10 push-ups
Sprint 1km
15 push-ups
Sprint 1km
20 push-ups
Sprint 1km
25 push-ups
Sprint 1km
25 push-ups
Sprint 1km
20 push-ups
Sprint 1km
15 push-ups
Sprint 1km
10 push-ups

Deload Week

Lots of yoga, a bit of running, and a little lighter weightlifting.

Sep 23, 2013
Samantha Angela

Afternoon Tea with the Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook

With the start of football season I’m free on Sundays for the next 5 months. I still haven’t gotten into football enough to truly enjoy wasting my Sundays watching it so I’m finding other ways to keep myself busy.

Last weekend I had my girlfriends over for afternoon tea. I made good use of my new Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook for snacks to nibble on with our orange pekoe.

Downton Abbey Tea

Afternoon tea always starts with sandwiches. I made the classic cucumber sandwiches with cream cheese, mayo, and dill. I left the crusts on though to show off these tiny loaves of buttermilk bread I made specifically for dainty miniature sandwiches.

Downton Abbey Tea - Cucumber SandwichesClassic Cucumber Sandwiches on slices of mini loaves of buttermilk bread.

Scones are also a must at afternoon tea. I considered making clotted cream but settled for lemon curd instead. The scones I made from the Downton Abbey cookbook had more of a chewy muffin consistency than a dense, flaky scone consistency. They were good, but I like these scones better.

Downton Abbey Tea - Lemon CurdDownton Abbey Tea - Scones

Lemon Curd and Scones

The third course of afternoon tea is the sweets like cakes and cookies. I opted for cookies (because, if you don’t know by now, I really love cookies). I made Ginger Biscuits and Custard Creams. The Ginger Biscuits are really good dunking cookies. The Custard Creams are made with custard powder which gives them a lightness and they’re filled with buttercream which gives them a richness. I had to make 2 batches of Custard Creams because Matt and I ate the entire first batch– they were that good.

Downton Abbey Tea - BiscuitsGinger Biscuits (left) and Custard Creams (right)

Classic Custard Creams

Custard Creams are the most popular biscuit in Britain. Made with custard powder the cookie has a lightness to it, but the buttercream filling gives it a richness.


1 c butter, softened
1 t almond extract
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c custard powder


1/2 c butter, softened
2 t vanilla extract
1 T milk
2-1/2 cups icing sugar


Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Cream together butter, almond extract, and sugar until light and fluffy.

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together flour and custard powder, then slowly mix into butter-sugar mixture o form a malleable dough. Roll dough into small balls and place on prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. With a fork, press down lightly on dough to make an impression.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until set, but do not let brown. Let cool for 7-10 minutes on cookie sheet, then move to rack to cool completely while you make cream filling.

For cream filling:
Cream butter until smooth. Add vanilla and milk and beat to combine. Slowly mix in powdered sugar, being careful to avoid lumps. Beat until smooth.

Form sandwiches with cookies, putting cream in the middle. Let cookies set for 2 hours before serving.

These biscuits freeze really well.

Sep 18, 2013
Samantha Angela

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup Recipe and Prevention RD Cookbook Review

I was really excited when Skyhorse Publishing offered me a review copy of Prevention RD’s Everyday Healthy Cooking, Nicole Morrissey’s first cookbook.

Prevention RD's Everyday Healthy Cooking

I’ve been reading PreventionRD.com for years and have made tonnes of her recipes in the past (like this Spinach and Goat Cheese Rolled Omelette or this Slow Cooker Navy Bean Soup) and they’re all recipes that I make over and over again.

Keep in mind that Nicole and I are Internet friends (and there was that one time last month that we met IRL too), so this review may be biased, but I’ll try to be as honest as I can.

The Dishes

I made 3 recipes from the book– Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, Pesto Mashed Potato Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms, and Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Spinach. I tried to follow the recipes as written so I could get an accurate review but I admittedly made a few adjustments.

DSCF4163Light Buttermilk Ranch

I was a fan of the Light Buttermilk Ranch (I made it twice!). I’d encourage you to stick with the recommended Greek yoghurt; I used regular plain yoghurt and it wasn’t as creamy as it should have been. The flavour was great though– much better than any bottled dressing.

Stuffed Portobello MushroomsPesto Mashed Potato Stuffed  Portobello Mushrooms

Matt and I really enjoyed the Pesto Mashed Potato Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms. I liked the tip of scooping out the gills of the mushrooms before filling them. You get a lot more pesto mashed potatoes that way and that filling is damn good. I whipped the potatoes with a hand blender so they were super smooth and luxurious. I followed the recipe exactly but I had quite a bit of filling left over (not complaining) and I think I could have gotten another 2 mushroom caps with it.

Lemon Orzo SoupLemon Chicken Orzo Soup

The Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Spinach was our favourite of the recipes I’ve made so far. It had a great tartness from the lemon that made it feel light and summery, but it was hearty enough to be a meal on its own. I might have unhealthified it by swapping the olive oil for schmaltz (ie. rendered chicken fat). Sorry Nicole! But I did use (sodium free!) homemade chicken broth.

Overall Impressions

I liked how simple all the recipes were. Most recipes only had a handful of steps which were very intuitive anyway. I probably could have guessed the directions just by looking at the recipe name and ingredient list. I like that because I do this anyway with a lot of cookbooks, and also because it makes the recipes really accessible to people who are new to healthy cooking.

I liked the healthy icons that told you at a high level whether a recipe was high in fibre or heart healthy or vegan, etc. Nutritional information is provided for each recipe which takes away the guesswork for people tracking calories or macronutrients.

I would have liked to see an index at the back of the book pointing me to recipes by ingredients. I use indices often when I have an ingredient and want to find a recipe for it.

Aesthetically the book is great. It’s easy to read and well laid out. I noticed the balance of a few of the photos seemed a bit off in a way that me think there was an issue with the printing rather than the photography itself. Nicole always takes gorgeous pictures that are well-balanced and well-composed and most of the ones in the book hit the mark, except a select few.

Overall I liked the book a lot. I suspect I’ll be using it a lot for quick, easy, and healthy dinner ideas.

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Spinach

as printed in Prevention RD’s Everyday Healthy Cooking


1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 med onion, chopped
4 carrots, halved lengthwise and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
12 c low sodium chicken broth
1 lb rotisserie chicken meat
8 oz orzo pasta
1/2 c fresh lemon juice (~2 lemons)
zest of 1 lemon
black pepper, to taste
8 oz baby spinach


In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat il on medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery. Cook until vegetables begin to soften and onion becomes translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute or so. Add bay leaf, thyme, oregano, and pepper. Cook for another 30 seconds or so and add broth. Bring to a boil then partially cover and turn down to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are just soft, approximately 5-6 minutes.

Add pasta, lemon juice, and zest. Stir. Simmer 7-8 minutes.

Add cooked chicken. Allow to heat through. Stir in baby spinach and allow it to wilt in hot broth. Remove bay leaf, and serve.

Yield: 8 servings, (2c each)

Nutritional Information (per serving):

246 calories, 2g fat, 47mg cholesterol, 214mg sodium, 31g carb, 3.6g fibre, 24.5g protein

Sep 12, 2013
Samantha Angela

Granola with BIG Clusters


I really like America’s Test Kitchen because they let you in on all sorts of culinary tips and tricks that, when implemented, work really well. It’s comforting knowing that they did a number of tests to find the best results for a recipe.

I found this little granola-making trick on America’s Test Kitchen and recently implemented it. It results in a nice, chunky granola with big clusters (which are, let’s be honest, the best part of any granola).

Most granola recipes call for regular stirring while the granola bakes, but this one is quite different.

The Process for Chunky Granola with Big Clusters

Step 1: Press down the granola mixture into a baking sheet creating a compact layer.

Step 2: Bake the granola without stirring, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

Step 3: Once the sheet of granola has cooled, break it up into pieces.

Basically you’re making granola bars and then breaking them up into granola. And it works like a charm.

I used the technique on this granola recipe and it turned out to be the chunkiest granola ever. Take notes my friends, because this process is a winner.

Sep 10, 2013
Samantha Angela

Three Things

My hair is now purple. Not purple-ish but purple purple. I highlighted it this weekend and I love it. It’s pretty far out but I’ve already gotten compliments from total strangers so it must not be terrible. Now I’ll just have to learn how to ignore the old people who stare.

Purple Highlights

The Decadent makes a mean chocolate chip cookie spread. When I saw this in the Zehrs flyer I shouted “Decadent* Cookie Spread?!?!?!!!” but no one around seemed to share my enthusiasm. I promptly purchased it and went on to eat the entire jar of chocolatey spread with cookie crunch in precisely 3 days. So, yeah, it’s good. Not quite as good as speculaaspasta, but at least as good as nutella.

*Sidebar for my US readers: The Decadent is probably the best store-bought chocolate chip cookie you’ll ever find. They’re like Chips Ahoy, except not shitty.

Decadent Cookie Spread

A year and a half after I got them, my orchids started blooming again! Since I have the opposite of a green thumb (a black thumb?) and kill every plant I own, this is a major victory in the life of me.


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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