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.

08 May

30×30 Nature Challenge – Week 1

This challenge definitely hasn’t been much of a challenge at all. We’ve been blessed with really great weather– warm, sunny, generally gorgeous– and with the endless rains we saw in April it’s been nice to finally enjoy the spring weather.

Tulips

During the week I’ve been taking my lunch outside to eat at the benches we have under the trees at work. There’s my 30 minutes right there! I usually do this when the weather is nice anyway, so it hasn’t changed my usual pattern.

Lunchtime Eating SpotLunchtime eating spot

What has changed is that I’ve been trying to bring the dog to the park more often. I usually just walk her around the block, but this week, in an effort to get a little more nature, I took Bagigis to the parks nearby and spent a bit more time outside with her.

Bagigis!Bagigis has been benefitting from the 30×30 too!
(P.S. those are Matt’s hairy legs, not mine)

Also I did a few fun activities too. Matt and I went to Amherstburg for some ice cream & froyo took a walk down by the Detroit River.

Fro Yo at the WaterfrontNavy Yard Park

And one day this weekend I took my book onto the front porch to read; a tall Greek Frappe and a book about a spruce tree read while sitting by a spruce tree.

Reading

It doesn’t get much better than this.

. . . okay, maybe it does. . .

Zipline!Ziplining at the playground

So far, this is the coolest challenge ever.

25 Aug

New Computer

As promised, Matt bought Bagigis a new shiny laptop.

Bagigis Laptop

Actually, it’s more matte than shiny. And it’s blue which is one of the few colours dogs can see, so bonus!

I don’t know the specs or anything but I can tell you that it has all the features Bagigis wanted: it loads up insanely fast (she’s an impatient pup) and has a super long battery life so she can take it to, like, the dog park or something, I dunno.

Bagigis Laptop

Anyway, I think she’s enjoying it so far 😉

13 Apr

Happy 3rd Birthday Bagigis!

Happy 3rd Birthday to my best friend and favourite dog, Bagigis!


Bagigis at the Run for the Cure

We got Bagigis in June of 2009 not long after buying our first house. I desperately wanted a puppy and Matt went along with it for my sake.

We drove all the way to Woodstock to pick her up from an amazing cocker spaniel breeder there. She was the tiniest little thing and so adorable. She slept the entire 2 hours drive back home on the floor of the car at my feet.


Bagigis at 8 weeks when we first brought her home

The first few weeks were terrible. She picked up on potty training pretty quickly (we crate trained her to speed up the process) but of course there were always accidents. I would find myself stepping in puddles of dog pee or smelling dog poo wafting from the far corners of the house.

She would chew everything in sight, especially Matt’s electronics cables and my shoes. It took her a long time to learn her name, and to learn ‘no’, so the whole process of training her was frustrating.

I was stressed out. Matt was angry. Livid, actually.

I don’t know that I will ever bring another puppy into our house. I was pretty sure that Matt was going to divorce me for bringing a little terrorizer into the house.


She also liked chewing my crotch, apparently

But eventually she started to calm down. I don’t know how it happened but she started listening when we called her. We stopped hiding things that we were afraid she would chew. A little bit at a time we trusted her in the house while we were out, intead of being crated. First for a few hours, then for the entire work day. I started walking her without a leash on pedestrian trails.

Now I can’t imagine not having her around to greet me when I come home, or to curl up on my lap and fall asleep snoring while I read a book on the couch, or to stand by my feet as I cook waiting to pounce on the first thing I drop.

She has such a little personality. She’s not very smart, but she is unbelievable friendly. She loves people. She gets so excited when people come over that she runs laps around the living room. She even makes friends with cats in the neighbourhood (I’m pretty sure she thinks they’re dogs too!)


Bagigis on her 2nd Birthday

When I first planned on getting a dog the only people that tried to talk me out of it were people that didn’t have dogs. They would say home much work it is, how much money it costs, and how much time it takes up. Dog owners would say, “You have to get one!” because they knew how fun anf fulfilling it is to have a pet in spite of all the work that comes with one. And they were right.

22 Feb

Visit to the Shedd Aquarium

For the long Family Day weekend Matt and I visisted my sister Vicki and brother-in-law Sean in Illinois. It’s been about six months since the last time visited.

We brought Bagigis with us to play with her little doggie cousin, Ruxin. In retrospect, that might have been a mistake. Aside from one night when my sister fell asleep on the floor with the pups beside her, the dogs were terrors in the middle of the night– chasing each other and fighting in the middle of the night and scratching at our doors keeping us awake. Lesson learned: sleep on the floor next time. Or, ya know, bring the crate.

(source)

We spent the better part of the weekend watching almost all of Season 1 of the Game of Thrones. I read the book last year and thought they did a really good job with the casting and the settings, keeping it true to the book (for the most part). The books are long though so I’m not sure if I’ll read the rest or just watch the series.

Saturday afternoon the four of us went to the gym. Vicki teaches group exercise classes and she set up a circuit of 8 exercises in the aerobics room:

We followed up by playing a bit of basketball (which I haven’t done since I was 14) and stayed at the gym until it closed.

Sunday afternoon involved heading into Chicago, eating Jimmy John’s subs, and visiting the Shedd Aquarium.

Shedd Aquarium
Vicki and Sean in front of the Shedd Aquarium

It’s member appreciation month and since Vicki is a member she got to bring Matt and I for $5 each. A steal! We had to cut our visit short though since Sean got a call halfway through our visit from his landlord complaining about the dogs crying. That was all Bagigis, I’m sure. She’s a big suck that cries whenever we leave her somewhere.

Chicago
Matt and I in front of the Shed Aquarium

At least we got to see most of the exhibits- the jellies and the sea otters were my favourites- though we missed out on the sharks and the coral reef.

(Click for Larger Pictures)

JelliesShedd AquariumShedd AquariumJelliesJelliesShedd Aquarium


Happy Mardi Gras everyone!

In typical Fat Tuesday fashion, tonight’s dinner included oatmeal pancakes with maple syrup :-d

I used a combination of oats, oat bran, and flour in these pancakes.

Pancakes

Every Lent I practice some form of self denial. This year I’m giving up sugar starting tomorrow.

It’s going to be tough. I always always have cravings for sweets and I think those cravings will be tough to quash. Here’s hoping I can make it through all forty days : /

02 Feb

Moist and Tasty Cornbread

It’s been a couple of weeks since I baked up any bread so I decided to dig into the depth of my fridge for the sourdough starter that I’ve neglected for months. When I took the plastic wrap off the bowl I was blown away by the intense alcohol smell. I considered trying to refresh a small portion of the starter, which I can usually do even if it’s been dormant in the fridge for a while, but from its pungency (yes, I made the mistake of tasting it) and soupy consistency I wasn’t confident that it would come back to life.

So I pitched the whole thing.

I’m contemplating making a new starter this weekend, but I’m uncertain of my abilities to keep it alive. Living things always seem to be at risk on my watch– my sourdough starter, the succulent planter I bought for my desk when I first started my job, the geraniums my mother-in-law planted at my house. Funny how all those things– sourdough, succulents, geraniums– have a reputation for heartiness. They’re not easy to kill. And yet through neglect and mistreatment and disregard I’ve managed to kill them all.

Luckily my dog is still alive; though I probably deserve little credit for this. It’s entirely because of my husband’s care and attention. He notices when she wants food and when she’s scratching too much and when she seems sad and when she needs to take her flea medication while I sit back and watch her thinking that she’s entirely normal. “No Sam,” he’ll disagree, “I think she needs to go to the vet.” And she usually does.

I can’t keep anything alive.

So after pitching my sourdough starter I decided to make a ciabatta bread but realized that I had no yeast. So that idea was scrapped too and since I didn’t have bananas I couldn’t make a banana bread either. So I ended up making cornbread the only other chemically leavened bread that I could think. I didn’t really want it but I was bored and wanted to bake. In the end it turned out so moist and delicious that I couldn’t stop eating it.

This would be really good to make on Super Bowl Sunday with some whisky baked beans.

Moist and Tasty Cornbread

makes one 10″ round loaf

Ingredients

1 cup (6 ounces) coarse cornmeal or polenta
2 cups milk (I used soy)
1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

Soak the cornmeal in the milk. Cover and leave at room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugars.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the molasses and melted butter. Add the egg mixture and soaked cornmeal mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a large spoon or whisk until all the ingredients are evenly distributed and the batter is blended and smooth to the consistency of pancake batter.

Line a 10-inch round cake pan with parchment and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Pour in the cornbread batter. Bake the cornbread for about 35-40 minutes, or until the bread is firm and springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The top will be a deep golden brown.

Allow the cornbread to cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before slicing it into squares or wedges.

11 Dec

18 mile training run

18 mile run
Fakest smile ever.

How I really felt after the run.


18 mile run

A little bit like this.

18 mile run
And a little bit like this.

Today I ran 18 miles in my training run for the upcoming marathon. This is the first Sunday in a few weeks when the weather has been nice enough to run outside. It was sunny and cold—my kind of running weather.

My technique was to run a 9 mile loop, then back to my house for a bathroom/water/cookie break before running a different 9 mile loop.

The first 9 went really well. I had a lot of energy and had a good tempo going. I finished the first 9 miles in 1:23 with no walking breaks.

The second 9 was a little rougher going and took me 10 minutes longer. I definitely slowed my pace and walked whenever I felt tired. I didn’t pick a very good route for this one because it was boring, windy, and extra cold. In my last 3 miles, though I did run by Santa Claus in front of a Christmas tree shop who gave me a high five and told me to “keep on truckin’!” It definitely kept me motivated. I can’t wait to see what Disney characters will do!

DSCF7858

I am not exactly looking forward to running 20 miles next week knowing what my legs felt like after my run today. But at least that will be my last long run before I start to taper. I don’t understand how some runners complain about the taper. I’m excited for it!


Holiday Health Challenge Update:

This is week  4 of my Holiday Health Challenge and I think I did much better than last week.

1) Keep a food journal – B

I only missed 2 days of journalling.

2) Eliminate processed sugar – B

3 days without desserts again this week. Woot!
Matt and I made some caramel corn last night to eat while watching Just Got With It (which was really funny by the way) which ruined me for the weekend.

3) Floss my teeth every day – A-

I only missed a couple of days.

4) Start the day with lemon juice and water – C

I missed a bunch of days this week, unfortunately. Again I’ve been waking up later and later every morning :/

5) Run 150 miles – A – (138/150 miles)

I ran 30 of the 32 miles I had scheduled this week.

6) Squat 155lbs for 5 reps – A+

This week I squatted 155lbs for 6 reps, in each of 4 sets. I had an amazing workout on Friday night. So good that some guy came up to me and said, “I see you here all the time. You work out hard! Do you play sports?”

I did 4 sets of each of these exercises:

Squats: 155lbs x 6reps
Deadlifts: 155lbs x 5reps
Dumbbell Rows: 60lbs x 5reps
Bench Press: 125lbs x 4reps
Turkish Get-Ups: 10lbs x 8reps (<—my new favourite exercise)

7) Make my walks with Bagigis 5 minutes longer – C

I did a pretty bad job at this, but she did get a day at the doggie spa with extra special scented shampoo 🙂

bagigis

8 ) Take all my vitamins – B

I only missed a few days this week.

16 Oct

Photography Challenge Days 14, 15, 16


Day 14: Eyes

DSCF2863

Photo Taken August 14, 2010. This is my cocker spaniel, Bagigis. I like her eyes in this picture because she looks rather pensive which is unusual for her simple and slightly dumb personality.


Day 15: Silhouette

France134

Photo taken July 2008 at Musee D’Orsay in Paris, France.


Day 16: Long Exposure

DSCF7477

Photo taken October 14, 2011 at a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant.

03 Oct

Run for the Cure 2011

DSCF7357

Yesterday I took part in the Run for the Cure which is a fun 5 kilometre run/walk to raise money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

My family and friends have participated as a team every year since 2006 when we established our team, team icancervive, in honour of my mother, Hiyan Campagna, who passed away from breast cancer that year.

Run for the Cure
My friends at the Run for the Cure

DSCF7376
Me, Dad, Sister

Every year we raise thousands of dollars which go toward breast cancer research, awareness programs, early diagnosis, and effective treatments.

As of this writing, our team raised $3,275 this year! And there are still cash donations coming in.

The run isn’t a race so you have to keep your own time. The event is more about getting together with family than beating the clock, so I wasn’t too upset that I forgot my watch. Based on the clock I suspect my time was around 27 minutes.

My sister and I ran together for the first 4K and then I decided to kick into gear in the last kilometre of the race.

DSCF7381

Matt and I brought Bagigi to the run because she seemed so excited to come with us this morning. Also, I knew that our friend Eric was bringing his dog Boomer and my sister Vicki was bringing Ruxin.

Ruxin

Boomer

It was a bit of a mistake because she was way too hyper to be around so many people and I was really busy trying to get things in order for the team (since I’m the team captain).

My friend Teresa offered to walk Bagig’ so I could run and I took them up on that. It was the perfect morning for a run — sunny and about 50*F.

DSCF7343

After the run Matt and I hosted the team at our place for beers and sandwiches which was so much fun. I made a pie and 3 different types of sandwich bread yesterday which were all a hit 🙂

It turned out to be such an amazing day with my friends and family. It’s one that I look forward too every year.

06 Sep

Weekend Gone to the Dogs

Matt and I spent Labour Day weekend visiting my sister Vicki and BIL Sean in Illinois. We get to spend more time together when we go visit them because when they come home to Windsor on the weekends there’s usually a lot of stuff crammed into a short couple of days. It’s always a fun time in Illinois.

We ate, we imbibed, we watched movies, and we shopped in the town centres of the nearby neighbourhoods.

Matt and I brought Bagigis with us to play her puppy cousin Ruxin so the weekend was all about the canines. It was Bagig’s first car trip since we brought her home from the breeder in Woodstock. She loves car rides so we weren’t too worried about her causing trouble for us.

Naperville (3)

…I think she got bored—a 6 hour car ride is a lot to handle.

We took Bagig’ and Ruxin into downtown Naperville for a little stroll. The towns in Illinois are so dog friendly, I love it! Everyone had their dogs out and about. We were able to sit and have a beer and with the dogs on a patio. Good times.

Naperville (4)

Bagigis is a big crying suck when Matt or I leave her alone so it was nice that we were able to bring the dogs into some stores.

Bagigis peed in lululemon. Naturally. I guess she has an aversion to overpriced yoga wear.

Naperville

Naperville (2)

Given that I’m cheap and sorta hate shopping, I actually took advantage to the strong CDN dollar and cheap American prices and bought quite a bit this weekend. Naturally, all of it pertained to cooking.

I bought some loose leaf Earl Grey tea which smelled divine. I picked up some spices from the Spice House, and the best balsamic vinegar in the world from the Olive Mill.

I took advantage of the crazy going-out-of-business sale at Borders and bought 4 (four!!) cookbooks from which I’ve made 3 recipes already: ginger pecan pancakes, rosemary lemon squares, and roasted corn soup.

I have a recipe planned for tomorrow as well.

cookbooks

But the crowning jewel in my purchases was done at a store which is my version of heaven: Sur la Table. I finally caved and bought . . .

Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker Attachment

an ice cream maker!

Matt (mostly) and I have been wanting one for a while so I’m happy I finally gave in. But, since ice cream is singlehandedly responsible for my own childhood weight issues and acne, this contraption could have the makings of a health hazard. Only time and cold, creamy goodness will tell folks.

This baby is in the freezer and ready to go for the first batch. Any suggestions on recipes I should make? I’m thinking the inaugural pint should probably be something classic, like french vanilla.

Dinner at Vicki's Place

Vicki and I let the boys make dinner on Sunday night while we watched TiVo’d episodes of The Millionaire Matchmaker. The meal?

Shrimp and Grit’s baby. This recipe come courtesy of Summer and it was really tasty. Gotta love Southern cooking.

Shrimp and Grits

All in all it was a wonderful weekend.


You can read about a prior visits to Illinois here.